Lok Sabha members discuss drought, water crisis

New Delhi, April 26 :  Severe drought conditions and the resultant water crisis, especially in Latur region of Maharashtra, figured prominently in the Lok Sabha on Tuesday.

Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh said ‘bhayankar’ (serious) conditions prevailed in the Marathwada region of Maharashtra, but hastened to add that both the state and the central governments were doing their best to tackle the situation.

Singh said the Maharashtra government had declared drought in eight districts, adding that serious conditions prevailed in 2,306 villages.

The drought in the western state has particularly hit Aurangabad, Latur, Beed, Osmanabad, Parbhani, Hingoli, Nanded and Jalna districts, agriculture ministry officials later told IANS.

Congress member M. Veerappa Moily said ad hocism was no answer to drought and water crisis.

The former union minister suggested that the government could ponder over bringing about changes in the national disaster manual in view of the water crisis in the country.

Biju Janata Dal member Kalikesh Singh Deo said the central assistance in most cases was meagre compared with demands made by various states.

This shortfall was creating hurdles for the Odisha government in giving relief, compensation and other assistance to the affected people, Deo said.

Minister Radha Mohan Singh said drought relief allocations to all states had seen a quantum leap since the Narendra Modi government took over.

“We have made higher allocations to Karnataka, Odisha and other states compared with the central assistance given in 2011-12,” he said.

The treasury and opposition members also clashed when the minister said that big dams in Maharashtra were built only to help sugar mills.

“Mein bhi maang karta hoon, is pe charcha honi chahiye (I also demand that there should be a detailed discussion on the issue),” the minister said during Question Hour.

He said: “Big dams in the state only helped sugar factories and there was no concern for farmers.”

This provoked opposition members like Nationalist Congress Party’s Supriya Sule and several Congress members.

“That means you all do not have the courage to face facts,” Singh said.

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