July 18, 2008

‘Govt Should Declare Drought in State’

MUMBAI: The Shiv Sena-BJP alliance on Wednesday launched an attack on the Congress-led DF government for its alleged failure to tackle drought conditions. The Opposition demanded immediate declaration of "drought" instead of "drought-like" situation in the state.

Leading a frontal attack in the legislative assembly, senior BJP MLA Gopinath Munde said, "The situation is very grim and the state should seek central help to tackle it." The government is not willing to declare drought because then it will have to provide aid to farmers, he said.

Munde was speaking during a discussion on the drought situation in the state on the first day of the legislature's monsoon session.

Expressing his displeasure with the way the Congress-NCP alliance is handling the situation, Munde said that in 1972, 1986 and 2004, the state had faced a problem due to negligible rainfall, but this time the situation had worsened.

"Many parts of the rural Maharashtra have not received rains so far and the situation is very alarming," Munde observed. "I have never seen water being provided to people through tankers in July. If the government fails to declare drought then the opposition will launch an agitation," he warned. Besides pushing farmers into trouble, the inadequate rainfall in the state has created water scarcity problems in urban areas and affected power generation. The state has been forced to increase the existing loadshedding hours, Munde said.

Leader of the Opposition, Ramdas Kadam, who initiated the discussion, demanded the government's resignation for its failure to take proper measures to overcome the drought situation.

Initially, the Opposition pressed for an adjournment motion against the government. However, Speaker Babashaeb Kupekar turned it down. Finally, chief minister Vilasrao Deshmukh intervened and agreed for a discussion.

In the council, leader of the Opposition, Pandurang Phundkar initiated the debate. In his speech, Phundkar said the government must immediately declare drought.

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