Akhilesh Yadav seeks Rs.11,000 crore from the Centre to tackle drought
In a meeting with the Prime Minister, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav sought approximately Rs.11,000 crore from the Centre towards the state's drought relief. Yadav told the PM that funds would be used to buy 10,000 tankers to carry water to villages that have been hit by the drought. Yadav told the media that "the Centre and the state have to work together".
50 districts in Uttar Pradesh have been witnessing one of the most severe droughts. 7 districts of Bundelkhand- Chitrakoot, Banda, Mahoba, Hamirpur, Lalitpur, Jhansi and Banda are the worst off. The drinking water scarcity has been made worse by the high salinity levels of water in the region. The Akhilesh Yadav government announced Rs.30 crore for solving the drinking water scarcity in Bundelkhand.
While the UP administration has attributed the drought to deficit rainfall, natural scarcity of water and additional climatic factors, environmentalists beg to differ. Environment activists contended that the encroachment of Chandela-era ponds and overall deforestation was to be blamed. A RTI report highlighted that in the past decade, almost 4,020 ponds had "vanished" in Bundelkhand, principally because of encroachments by land sharks.
In a memorandum to the PMO, UP had shared its action plan for renewal and repair of 78,000 water-bodies such as tanks, ponds, and farm ponds; 100,000 new water-bodies and recharge structures.
The UP government rejected the Centre's proposal to send a water-train to the state's drought-hit Bundelkhand region. UP CM said the water crisis situation was not as drastic as in Maharashtra's Latur. He, however, asked the Centre to give UP 10,000 water tankers for circulating water in the region. The afflicted Bundelkhand area is spread across 13 districts of Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh.
Replying to the media on UP's refusal to accept water train, CM Yadav said "Water is available in Bundelkhand, dam is hardly 5kms away. We just have to make arrangements for distribution of water".
At the meeting with the PM, it was told that Rs.934.32 crore has been allocated to UP under the National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF). Additionally, Rs.506.25 crore had been released as the Centre's share of State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF) for 2015-16 to the state. The PMO also announced the allocation of Rs.265.87 crore as the first instalment of the SDRF for 2016-17.