MP CM for inclusion of 3 Vindhya distts. in study for long term steps against drought

By Pervez Bari,

Bhopal : Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan has urged the Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh that Satna, Rewa and Sidhi districts of Vindhya region of Madhya Pradesh should be included in the study for long term measures against drought by an inter-ministry Central team in six districts of Bundelkhand region i.e. Sagar, Damoh, Tikamgarh, Chhatarpur, Panna and Datia. He also demanded to increase the days of employment guarantee under National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, (NREGS), to 180 days in drought affected districts.

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According to an official Press release Chouhan in his letter pointed out that the Central government has constituted an inter-ministry central team for study of circumstances and trends in the above six districts of Bundelkhand region and to recommend medium and long term measures to mintage the ill-effects of drought there. He reminded him that at a meeting held in Delhi on January 4, 2000 the Government of Madhya Pradesh had urged that along with the above six traditionally calculated districts, three adjoining districts of Vindhya region should also be included in the study which are equally affected by drought. It should be done just as Sonbhadra and Mirzapur districts of adjoining Bundelkhand region of Uttar Pradesh are being included in the study. The original proposal of Uttar Pradesh government was to include Vindhyachal region also along with Bundelkhand region.

The Chief Minister said that the state government has chalked out a Rs. 22,250 crore special development scheme for the above nine districts of which six are in Bundelkhand region and three in Vindhya region. The kharif crops have failed for fourth year in a row in these areas. Only 30 to 35 per cent of the sown area gets irrigation there. As an immediate measure the state government has allocated funds under drought relief head for providing employment to the needy. Funds have also been made available for drinking water and fodder arrangements. But these are short-term measures. In view of successive years of drought there is need for medium and long-term measures to find a lasting solution and minimize the effects of drought. The inability of farmers of these areas to repay the bank loans is also a serious problem.

He urged for ensuring immediate benefit of a special package and policy restructuring in this context. Due to these difficulties it is a formidable challenge for the farmers to pay the electricity bills. In view of its limited resources the state government expects special central support in this regard, he added.

The Chief Minister further underlined in the letter that it would not be advisable to ignore other drought affected districts of Madhya Pradesh in addition to the above nine districts. The districts of Gwalior region should also be covered under these measures. This year, 37 out of 48 districts of Madhya Pradesh are reeling under drought and of them 21 are totally drought affected. A separate memorandum is being presented seeking additional funds from the Union Ministry of Agriculture to generate employment for the needy, making drinking water arrangement and fodder for the cattle till June 2008. Under the NREGS minimum 100 days of employment was ensured, but it has been increased to maximum 100 days. He said that the number of days for employment should be further increased to 180 days in drought-affected districts.

The Chief Minister hoped in the letter that the Central government would rise above political considerations to fight and overcome the menace of drought unitedly, the release added. ([email protected])