Rajya Sabha takes up drought situation

New Delhi, May 8: The Rajya Sabha Tuesday took up the issue of drought-like situation in several parts of the country, with opposition members demanding immediate action as well as long term plan for tackling this natural calamity.

Raising a calling attention motion on the drought-like situation in Karnataka, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader M. Venkaiah Naidu slammed the government for its “lax” and “insensitive” attitude towards the issue even as crops in Karnataka have withered.

Minister of State for Agriculture Harish Rawat said the government has not been ignoring the issue and a central team will soon be visiting the drought-prone areas, but the opposition BJP refused to be placated. Accusing the government of inaction, its members walked out of the house.

Earlier, Naidu, slamming the government, said: “Centre is behaving casually, delegations have gone to the agriculture minister, and even finance minister, yet enough assistance has not been given.”

“I don’t know if this inaction is politically motivated, or they are ignoring some states or all states are being treated like this,” he questioned.

Several other members also raised the issue of drought-like situation in other states like Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh.

BJP MP Maya Singh, meanwhile, slammed the government for not providing jute bags to Madhya Pradesh, saying that grains were lying in the open due to shortage of bags. Shiromani Akali Dal MP Balwinder Singh Bhunder urged the government to take food grains from Punjab and distribute them to the drought-affected areas.

Father of Green Revolution in India M.S. Swaminathan suggested that the government formulate a long term plan to deal with effects of climate change and issue guidelines for the districts that are prone to drought.

“Instead of taking post-mortem action every time, we need to take anticipatory action. The effects of climate change will be visible, some areas will receive more rain, and some will receive less rain,” Swaminathan said.

“We will need to create guidelines, fodder banks and seed reserves will have to be created,” he said.

Opposition, meanwhile, stressed on sending a central team immediately and release of aid for the drought-prone areas, particularly Karnataka.

Responding to the members’ concerns, Rawat said the government is sending a team of experts to assess the situation in Karnataka soon. The minister also said that aid will be released on the basis of the team’s report soon.

“A team is being sent as soon as possible. There is no delay from the government’s part,” Rawat said.

He also said that long-term measures for facing the drought situation will be taken.

The BJP, however, remained dissatisfied by the minister’s reply, and staged a walkout.

–Indo-Asian News service

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IANS