Politics Ignite on Drought in Assembly -The Ruling Party Alleged Centre for Non-cooperation; Congress Denied This Head Along

The congress party members today walked out of the Vidhan Sabha due to a heated discussion ignited from a question related to drought in the state during question hour of the budget session. The heated discussion took place when the ruling party had no answer of a question raised by Ms. Saroj Bachhan Nayak, MLA from JD [U] and a complementary question by Congress MLA, Sajjan Singh Verma regarding the exact loss [in rupees] born by the drought-hit farmers in state. Though Mr. Narayan Singh Kushwaha, the State Revenue Minister, tried to satisfy the opposition by saying that the relief to farmers is given on the basis of drought or calamity report received from each district; but he was unable to cite the exact loss [in rupees] born by the drought-hit farmers.

Mr. Sunilam, MLA from Samajwadi party asked, "why did not the State government undertake a survey of drought-hit farmers prior to writing a letter asking drought relief from the centre?". In the meanwhile the ruling party told the opposition that till date Rs. 50 crore has been distributed to the drought-hit farmers. The opposition vehemently asked for how long the farmers will be played as a 'football' between centre and state? On this the ruling party replied spontaneously that farmers are suffering because of congress lead government in the centre.

Agriculture minister, Mr. Gopal Bhargav, told the house that as per rule relief fund is distributed to the districts on demand sent by the District Collector. He said for the year 2007-08 there is Rs. 185 crore in Calamity Relief Fund. Amidst the discussion, the CPI [M] MLA, Mr. Ram Lakhan Sharma, asked the ruling party about the money spend and relief work in 39 drought hit districts? Gopal Bhargav partially answered this by citing an example of Sagar district where the government has initiated relief work worth Rs. 7 crore. On the persistent unsatisfactory answer from the ruling party the opposition staged a walk out of the Vidhan Sabha.

It is worth noting that few weeks ago the chief minister, Mr. Shivraj Singh Chauhan has asked for Rs. 1826 crore as immediate relief for drought hit areas from the Central Agriculture Minister, Mr. Sharad Pawar. Also, the chief minister has presented a draft asking for Rs. 14,800 crore for providing long-term sustainable solution for drought hit region of Bundelkhand.

It is estimated that around 164 development blocks of the 39 district have been notified as worst sufferers of the drought by the state government. Six districts of Bundelkhand region have been grossly affected by the drought in last four consecutive years. Also, there is a registered downfall in the groundwater level in the state creating dearth of drinking water in almost 500 villages, reported by the state government. In this situation it has also become impossible to manage fodder and water for the animals. In the wake of lack of employment there is a large scale migration of rural population in the state. Considering the Kharif harvest and need for other relief work in the state it seems that the state government would need Rs.1826 crore from the centre. Also, it has asked the centre government to extend the days of employment under NREGS from 100 to 180 days.

Opposition had alleged the state government of failing in undertaking an analysis of loss created due to drought and crop harvest destroyed by chilly temperature. On one hand the government is crowing over by calling itself pro poor and on the other hand it's doesn’t seem to be committed to provide timely relief to the drought hit farmers. Dr. Sunilam alleged the ruling party of ignoring farmers producing sugar canes. He said that the condition of such farmers is really terrible and in the wake of non cooperation and untimely relief from the state government they may take an extreme step of ending their lives.  Congress denied the ruling party allegation of non cooperation from the centre head along. Former Chief Minister Mr. Digvijay Singh said that in the last four years the cooperation and support extended by the centre government has been definitely more than the previous NDA government.

Raju Kumar

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