The Centre has put the onus of addressing the drought situation on states, insisting that it is doing its bit to provide relief to those affected.
“We should not fight between Centre and the state. The role of Centre and state is different. It is clearly defined in the Rules. We can’t change it. The Centre’s role is to monitor and the state’s role is to provide assistance and help the affected people at ground level,” agriculture minister Radha Mohan Singh said in Rajya Sabha on Wednesday.
“The central government does its bit, but every state governments should also do their best” in addressing the drought situation, he said.
Singh was replying to a short duration debate on drought situation during which opposition members criticised the central government, saying it was not doing enough, including in the context of releasing adequate funds.
Members of Congress, JD(U), SP and BSP staged a walkout, expressing dissatisfaction over the minister’s reply.
Earlier, Singh insisted that farmers are a priority for the central government.
“I don’t know if we are facing the consequences because of previous government but we know the prevailing situation and are taking adequate measures,” he said.
“We come from different states. We are all concerned about farmers. ...We should also try to see what we can do in our own states to tide over the situation,” he said.
Water Resources Minister Uma Bharti, during her intervention in the debate, said almost 30 crore people are facing the brunt of summer heat and drinking water problem.
The problem has aggravated due to consecutive drought in last two years, which has brought down the water level in 91 reserviors, she said.
After the Agriculture Minister’s response, Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad said, “We are not satisfied with the minister’s reply. It is most unsatisfactory reply given by the government. That is why, we are walking out.”
Members of JD(U), SP and BSP also walked out with Congress members.
Earlier, Azad, while promising to stand by the government, questioned why drought had not been declared as a national crisis.
He also asked the Prime Minister had not called a meeting of all political parties as well as that of Chief Ministers of drought-hit states.
“It is a national crisis. The Opposition will stand with you. Don’t bring in politics. People are dying due to water shortage. Should PM not convene an all-party meeting as well as meeting of CM of all states?” Azad said.
The opposition parties also pressed for completion of 312 pending irrigation projects in a timely manner to boost water supply for drinking purposes and agriculture.