In what is being widely, boisterously termed in all-level Governmental Bureaucracy as First World’s decades-due assertion on Second World — precisely, bureaucracy (supercilious, obstinate, self-centred, recalcitrant tantamounting to sheer deficientcy, shortcoming, deprivation, famine for the countrymen of all hues all through the country) — calling-spade-a-spade-n-adhering-to-it-in-toto Prime Minister Narendra Modi with the help/assistance/coordination of his exuberant+enervating Cabinet Colleague + Union Railways Minister Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu has made Latur ‘watery’, Latur’s ‘water famine’ past, Latur’s denizens, land, cattle, wells, fields et al water logged. En masse, all the Latur-residents are smiling, heaving a great sigh of relief seeing H2O in reality. Not erelong, they resorted to suicide. Many of them are already ‘up there somewhere…’. But no more now.
In Latur Lok Sabha MP Dr Sunil Baliram Gaikwad’s words : “ Adequate waters are in Latur now, thanks to Union Railways Minister Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu and Prime Minister Narendra Damodar ModiJee who left no stone unturned in sending water to waterless Latur. It is truly commendable. Masses in Latur are trully happy. They are now eagerly looking forward to yet-to-start uniform distribution of water among them in all regions of the district. Distribution is in the charge of the Local Administration headed by administration. Its Collector Pandurang Pole is solely responsible for the distribution of the waters all through Latur…It is not happening. “That’s why we — 23 MPs — on May 15 staged dharna, pradarshan outside his office compelling him to be immune to his indifference/neutrality to the non-uniform-distribution of H2O in Latur. We still are to figure out why Collector Pandurang Pole is so indifferent making the masses unnecessarily restive against him. …”, says Latur Lok Sabha MP, Dr Sunil Baliram Gaikwad.
Latur-residents cum peasants cum farmers cum masses cum commoners cum “cross sections of big shots” unabashedly admitted to the JUST IN PRINT that their Collector Pole is against them because they voted for Gaikwad and BJP and not, the Congress or the INC and its “worthless” candidate. Since 1980 onward till 1999, Congress’ Shivraj Patil — was Lok Sabha Speaker when Congress enjoyed more than 3/4th majority in the Lok Sabha, Governor what not — was Latur MP for 7 times but he proved himself to be “unlucky” for Latur residents instead of being “Lucky 7” for them. Their woes worsened as days passed from 1980 to 2000s. Shivraj Patil became a globally known entity but Latur residents became steadily water+fodder+agricultural produce+cattle+farm production-famined. Shivraj Patil — by far the best National Voice for the Latur Janta Janardhan to alleviate their ‘constant water problems’, ‘water scarcity’ — could have easily involved World Bank, IMF, ADB, UN etc in Latur to solve the then seemingly perennial water crisis. But he did not do so. Following him strictly in his footsteps — as far as his indifference toward Latur is concerned — was former Union Minister VilasRao Deshmukh. He even as Maharashtra Chief Minister did not do a wee bit for Latur. Latur-residents do not remember him being concerned with Latur any way except that he was always filmy having passed out from Pune-based films-concerned FTII. Delhiites vividly recall, as Union Minister in UPA Government, his Akbar Road situated Ministerial bungalow used to remain fully packed with ‘filmy people’ or his FTII classmate Shatrughan Sinha and the like. At times, his filmy-son Ritesh Deshmukh and Shatrughan Sinha’s filmy-daughter Sonakshi Sinha with their Mumbai-compatriots used to do a lot of “filmy Noke Jhoke” in that residential premises causing great chagrin among the staffers, not at all habituated with such non-ministerial, non-governmental “do’s” in a Ministerial Bungalow. …Interestingly, Latur residents who voted Congress to the power continued to reel under severe drought, no water, dryness all around, cracked lands, dying cattle etc. Neither Deshmukh nor Patil nor their kith and kind cared for them. Even Jaywant Awale, Congress MP from Latur from 2009 to 2014, abysmally behaved the same way. When he was out-of-MPship, he was heard saying “I being a novice, naïve in Latur politics had to follow ShivRaj Patil and VilasRao or else their supporters would not have voted for me and ensured my defeat. That’s why I behaved the same way towards the Latur-residents as they did with them adopting utter ignorance towards them.” He lost in 2014 Lok Sabha Elections. Latur residents did not want to be wrongfully exploited any more by the Congress and its “high-handed, selfish, self-serving, Delhi-serving” mandarins at their votes’ cost. Latur residents actually repented why they voted for the Congress for the first time in 1971 — first year of Lok Sabha election in Latur — and made TulsiRam Kamble who simply did nothing worth mentioning. His legacy was faithfully carried by his successors like ShivRaj Patil etc. It is of course not more so now…. Present MP, Sunil BaliRam Gaikwad has evinced that the BJP, non-CongressMan surely is more useful to them than the perennially vested interested CongressMan/Woman serving only themselves but taking their votes and making haywire merry for themselves.
Latur and the entire Marathwada region would face mass exodus of residents, if they are not supplied water from outside. Political parties are still busy playing games but people desperately need water and not drama
Due to consistent rain deficit for over four years, the entire Marathwada region is facing a severe water shortage. Latur in Marathwade region of Maharashtra is one of the districts where the state government has declared a drought. In fact, this time the situation is so grim that majority of resident from Latur would be forced to migrate, if water is not supplied to the city. Many of them said that migration is on their mind. Some local people and others who had come from outside for work, have already left the place. Pune is the most favourite destination.
Those who have their businesses may find it very difficult to move to other places. However, the salaried class is open to moving given how grim the situation is. Many people are waiting for the school examination. Latur is known as one of the biggest education hub in Maharashtra. Latur is known throughout Maharashtra for its “Latur Pattern” which throws up toppers year after year. Unfortunately, due to the drought, it may not remain an education hub over next few years.
Even the business in Latur is adversely affected due to water scarcity. Latur was developed as a trading hub nine decades ago. Being located at the centre of three states, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Telangana, the city is major trading hub for soybean, groundnut, oils, tur dal and jaggery. However, during my visit, I saw empty roads in the mail market, known as Ganj Golai. My friends informed me that some of the shops are unable to make a transaction during the entire day.
Not erelong, people were buying water, but also soon stopped since there is no water left underground. Most of the bore wells have dried up despite reaching a depth of over 500 feet. Few, which still had some water, dried. “Only our bore well in the entire area behind Dayanand College, has some water. However, we also get just one to three buckets of water after waiting for over 8 to 10 hours. We use this water for cooking and drinking and buy water for other purposes. We pay Rs500-Rs700 for about 5,000 litre tanker that lasts for 15 days,” says Arun Lakshete, who runs a printing business.
According to Abhay Mirajkar, a journalist, some tanker owners are charging Rs900 to Rs1,100 for a 6,500 litre tanker. “We need to do advanced booking for the water tanker and after waiting for 3-5 days, we get the water. At least we are able to buy it at present, but the situation is becoming very grim every day,” said Hamid Shaikh, another journalist.
Latur collector Pandurang Pole on Latur water crisis: Got stock to last 3 months, didn’t send SOS for water.
EVEN as a 10-wagon train on a trial run started its 342-km journey from Miraj in Sangli district to Latur on Monday, the Latur district administration scotched reports that it has run out of water, stating that it had not sent any SOS to the state to send water from other districts. Latur, it is widely believed elsewhere in Maharashtra, is in the middle of its “worst” water crisis in decades.
“We have enough water —nearly 5 mcm (million cubic metres) — in four of our barrages. This (stock) will last till the monsoon arrives…(in) July,” District Collector Pandurang Pole told.
Pole said the district was staring at a similar situation six months ago, when Manjra dam had 5.3 mcm water. That, he pointed out, took care of drinking water needs of 10 lakh people. “For nearly six months, 5.3 mcm water took care of 10 lakh people. Why would 5 mcm water not be sufficient for the next three?” he asked. The rest of the district’s population — about 4 lakh — will get supply from “other sources”, he said.
The move to get water through train, it appears, was mooted by BJP leader Makrand Desphande. “At a party meeting in Nashik, I had suggested to CM Devendra Fadnavis that since Sangli district has enough water, it could be supplied (to Latur) through train. Two days later, the CM deputed (Revenue and Agriculture minister) Eknath Khadse, who made the announcement about supplying water by train,” Desphande said.
CONCLUDING PARA : “In the hour of inhuman, deepest crisis, Railway Administration has risen to the occasion to meet the water needs in the drought affected areas of Maharashtra and together with the local state administration carried out the ongoing exercise (till then) in the most effective manner. The entire exercise has been done involving huge logistic arrangements and mobilization of resources”, says Union Railways Minister Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu to JUST IN PRINT.
Thanks to Pradhan Mantri…
Draught Drought Dwindles
– Soumitra Bose/Mukesh Kumar Sinha
JIP FIRST : THEIR CONCERN…
According to the central government’s statement to the Supreme Court last week, a third of the India’s districts are currently facing a severe drought. This means that at least 33 crore Indians are affected by ongoing the crisis.
Expressing their deep concern on the issue and the impact it is having on rural populations of the country, and asking that the government take appropriate relief measures immediately, more than 150 academics and activists have written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Dear Mr Prime Minister,
We wish to convey our deep collective anxiety about the enormous suffering of the rural poor in large parts of India’s countryside as they are battling drought, often for the second or even third consecutive year. In areas where rains have failed, farmers who depend mainly on rainwater to irrigate their crops have no or very low crop yields. Those who rely on irrigation are also affected, with groundwater sinking and streams and reservoirs drying up. All this adds to chronic agrarian distress reflected in a massive slowdown in agricultural growth during the last few years, with no imminent signs of recovery.
The consequence of this adversity is massive distress movement of populations, causing broken childhoods, interrupted education, life in camps, city pavements or crowded shanties. Add to this the old and the infirm who are left behind, to beg for food or just quietly die. The cattle for whom there is no fodder, sold at distress prices or just abandoned to fend for themselves. And the drying up even of sources of water to drink.
However, the response of central and state administrations to looming drought is sadly listless, lacking in both urgency and compassion. The scale of MGNREGA works is way below what is required and wages often remain unpaid for months. Even more gravely, the central and state governments are doing far too little to implement the National Food Security Act, three years after it came into force. Had the Act been in place, more than 80% of rural households in the poorer states would be able to secure about half of their monthly cereal requirements almost free of cost. In a drought situation food security entitlements should be made universal.
In addition, we find no plans in most of the drought-hit regions for feeding the destitute, especially old persons left behind when families migrate, children without care-givers, the disabled and other vulnerable groups. ICDS centres could have been upgraded to supply emergency feeding to the destitute during the drought, but this has not happened. Under Supreme Court orders, school meals should be served on all days, including holidays, in drought-affected areas, but this is rarely the case. Arrangements to augment drinking water supply, including ensuring that marginalised hamlets have functioning tube-wells and transporting water where necessary, are awfully inadequate. There are also few attempts to create fodder banks and cattle camps. Most of these measures used to be a routine part of state response to drought, and were often undertaken with a great sense of urgency, but they are barely being considered today.
The highest priority of the central government in a drought situation should be to ensure the creation of millions of additional person-days of work in all affected villages. Instead, the government has not even allocated enough funds this year to sustain the level of employment generated last year – 233 crore person-days according to official data. At current levels of expenditure per person-day, this would cost well over 50,000 crore rupees. Yet the central government has allocated just 38,500 crore rupees to MGNREGA this year, of which more than 12,000 crore rupees are required to clear pending liabilities. These liabilities only prove the distress crores of workers have been put through because of wages left unpaid for months at a time. Unemployment allowance and mandatory compensation for delayed wage payments are also not paid, citing “insufficient funds”, resulting in a failure of the Act, and its legal safeguards. Most alarming today, is that instead of expanding, MGNREGA is all set to contract in this critical drought year, unless financial allocations are vastly expanded.
The enormous distress – of food, drinking water, work, fodder for animals, and dignity – of hundred of millions is utterly unacceptable. We demand that the central government under your leadership acknowledges these failures and makes rapid amends, by implementing all the traditional relief measures as well as by ensuring full implementation of the National Food Security Act 2013 and the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act 2005 in letter and spirit.
- Aruna Roy, senior activist, Rajasthan
- Jean Dreze, Economist
- Jayati Ghosh, Economist
- Harsh Mander, Activist, Writer
- Satish Deshpande, Academic, Sociologist
- Deep Joshi, senior environmentalist and water activist
- Prabhat Patnaik, Professor Emeritus, Economist, Senior academician
- Amit Bhaduri, Professor Emeritus, Senior Economist
- Vijay Vyas, Professor Emeritus, Senior Economist
- Utsa Patnaik, Professor and Senior Economist
- Arundhati Roy, Writer
- Admiral Ramdas, former Chief of Naval Staff
- Lalita Ramdas, activist, Maharashtra
- Naseeruddin Shah, Actor
- Brinda Karat, Women’s leader, Politician
- Medha Patkar, Activist, politician, women’s leader
- Shabana Azmi, Actor
- Kavitha Kuruganti, Activist, leader of farmer’s groups
- Nivedita Menon, Academic
- Nandita Das, actor
- Mukul Kesavan, writer
- Leela Samson, dancer
- Ashok Vajpeyi, writer
- Justice Rajinder Sachar, senior jurist
- Syeda Hameed, women’s leader, former member Planning Commission
- Shyam Benegal, filmmaker
- Himanshu Thakkar, environmentalist
- Wajahat Habibullah, former Chief Information Commissioner
- Deepak Sandhu, former Chief Information Commissioner
- Shailesh Gandhi, former Central Information Commissioner
- Uma Chakravarty, historian
- Ritwick Dutta, environmental legal activist
- Trilochan Shastry, academic
- Jagdeep Chhokar, academic
- Advocate Vrinda Grover
- Nandini Sundar, Sociologist
- Shekhar Singh, RTI activist
- Amar Kanwar, filmmaker
- Prof C.P.Chandrasekhar, labour economist
- Dilip Simeon, academic
- Prithvi Sharma, activist, also on behalf of ICAN
- Maja Daruwala, senior human rights activist
- Mathew Cherian, Helpage
- Krishna, Musician, Writer
- Anand Patwardhan, filmmaker
- Lalit Mathur, former civil servant
- Kavita Srivastava, PUCL, Rajasthan
- Anjali Bhardwaj, RTI activist
- Achin Vinayak, academic and activist, Delhi
- Ram Rehman, photographer
- Pamela Philipose, journalist
- Gandhi , academic
- Rita Anand, senior journalist
- Nirmala Lakshman, senior journalist
- Tripurari Sharma, Drama and Theater, playright
- Harsh Sethi, writer
- Madhu Bhaduri, former diplomat
- Sharmila Tagore, Actor
- Amitabh Mukhopadhyay, former auditor, CAG
- Mridula Mukherjee, historian
- Aditya Mukherjee, historian
- Amita Baviskar, academic
- Arundhati Dhuru, activist, UP
- Kavita Krishnan, activist, leader of women’s groups
- Reetika Khera, Economist
- Sanjay Kak, filmmaker
- Baba Adhav, labour leader
- Achyut Das, activist, Odisha
- Ajit Ranade, economist
- Kalpana Kannabiran, sociologist, lawyer
- Vasanth Kannabiran, teacher and activist, Andhra
- Paul Divakar, dalit activist
- Abha Sur, writer, academic
- Rajni Bakshi, writer
- Ravi Chopra, activist, Uttarakhand
- Neelabh Mishra, writer
- Poornima Chikarmane, Pune
- Zoya Hasan , academic, political scientist
- Shabnam Hashmi, activist
- Rebecca John, academic
- Anandalakshmy, academic
- Smita Gupta, Economist, Head of economic cell, AIDWA
- Praveen Jha, Economist
- Gautam Navlakha, senior activist
- Venkatesh Nayak, RTI activist
- Seema Mustafa, journalist, editor, The Citizen
- Bela Bhatia, academic
- Bezwada Wilson, senior activist
- Haragopal, academic
- Sumit Chakravarty, Editor, Mainstream
- Gargi Chakravarty, Women’s activist
- Patricia Uberoi
- Kamal Chenoy, senior academic
- Janaki Nair, academic
- Vipul Mudgal, journalist
- Deepa Sinha, Right to Food activist
- Himanshu, activist
- Uma Pillai, former civil servant
- Nikhil Dey, activist, Rajasthan
- Rath, academic
- Abey George,academic
- Mahesh Pandya, ICAN
- Jyothi Krishnan, academic
- Balram, activist, Jharkhand
- AL Rangarajan, ICAN
- Rajaram Singh
- Rameshwar Prasad, ICAN
- Anand Murugesan, academic
- Abha Bhaiya, women’s activist
- Sagar Rabari, activist, Gujarat
- Dhirendhra Singh
- Rammanohar Reddy, former editor EPW, senior writer
- Nandini K Oza, water activist, Maharasthra
- Osama Manzar, Digital Empowerment Foundation
- Rakesh Sharma
- Pankti Jog, RTI activist
- Rakesh Reddy Dubbudu, RTI activist, Telangana
- Subrat Das, economist
- Umesh Anand, editor, Civil Society
- Charul,singer, cultural activist
- Vinay, singer, writer, musician, activist
- Maya Caroli
- Ashwini Kulkarni, activist, Pune
- Vibha Puri Das
- Surjit Das
- Amrita Johri, RTI activist
- Madhuresh Kumar, activist
- Ankur Sarin
- Dipak Dholakia
- Navdeep Mathur
- Harinesh, activist, Gujarat
- Persis Ginwalla
- Shamsul Islam, theatre activist
- Prafulla Samantara, activist, Odisha
- Lingraj Azad, activist, Odisha
- Sunilam, activist, Madhya Pradesh
- Aradhana Bhargava
- Meera Chaudhary, activist
- Suniti SR, activist, Pune
- Suhas Kolhekar, activist Pune
- Prasad Bagwe
- Gabrielle Dietrich, leader of Women’s groups
- Geetha Ramakrishnan, activist Tamil Nadu
- P Chennaiah, activist Telangana
- Ramakrishnan Raju, activist, Andhra
- Richa Singh, activist, Uttar Pradesh
- Sister Cella
- Vimal Bhai, activist, Himachal Pradesh
- Jabar Singh, activist
- Anand Mazgaonkar
- Kamayani Swami, activist, Bihar
- Ashish Ranjan, activist
- Mahendra Yadav, activist
- Faisal Khan, activist, Haryana
- JS Walla
- Kailash Meena, activist, Rajasthan
- Amitava Mitra
- Aveek Saha
- BS Rawat
- Rajendra Ravi
- Shabnam Shaikh
- Mahesh Pandya
- Iqbalkhan Pulli
- Soumen Ray
- Ramachandra Prasad, ICAN
- Ravi M.
- Dipak Dholakia
Thanks to Pradhan Mantri…
Draught Drought Dwindle
-SOUMITRA BOSE/MUKESH KUMAE SINHA
Deep gratitude, intense thanks to Pradhan Mantri Narendra Modi, his ebullient Cabinet Colleague-cum-Union Railways Minister Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu for sending on-the-spot more-than-required H2O, Tsunami-like threatening drought in the whole country is over. Not this year at least, there will be any more drought, leave aside macabre drought far away. Draught drought has dwindled if not on way to being expunged fully.
Chairing a high level meeting to review the drought situation with chief ministers of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Jharkhand (earlier, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Gujarat,Telangana, Andhra Pradesh…to follow, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Odisha, parts of N-E, Uttar Pradesh etc), Prime Minister Narendra Modi flagrantly called for a mass movement on water conservation and rainwater harvesting to end water famine+drought+water-begging. Drought/s is/are Man-Made, artificial, due to negligence largely. There can’t be drought today due to innumerable positive factors. All droughts are preventable much well in advance, thanks to science. Prime Minister Modi openly sided with scientific temperament to shoo away phenomena like drought, water scarcity, dryness, famine etc.
Prime Minister Modi’s inspiration’s direct effect : Jharkhand is planning to double its irrigated area within two years by building 600,000 farm ponds, Rajasthan will construct 700,000 water conservation structures within the next four years.
For Rajasthan—which has faced a drought in 61 of the past 67 years—Modi suggested a revival of traditional water harvesting structures through public participation to state chief minister Vasundhara Raje. Jharkhand was advised by Modi to regularly monitor the implementation of the recently launched crop insurance scheme, Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana.
While implementing the employment guarantee scheme, the Prime Minister asked Jharkhand to use better technology to track asset creation through geo-tagging. He also asked for all water bodies to be identified with a unique number.
(Relevantly, in a series of judgements, the Supreme Court came down heavily on the Centre and states for lagging behind in taking up drought relief work.
Rapping states for an “ostrich-like attitude” on denying reality, the Apex Court directed the Centre throw open the Public Distribution System to all rural families in drought hit areas, and asked it to ensure there are no delays in making wage payments under the employment guarantee scheme.)
Large swathes of India are in the grip of drought after two successive years of below-average rainfall. The 2015 southwest monsoon, which irrigates over half of India’s crop area, was 14% short of normal last year, after a 12% deficit in 2014.
So far, 266 districts in 11 states have been declared drought-hit, the government told Parliament last month. A total of 330 million people in 10 states are affected, it had earlier informed the Supreme Court.
Under the circumstances, Prime Minister Modi personally is keeping tabs on all thr required, immediate all round required reliefs in all drought-affected areas making Droughts Drought, Draughts Dwindle not Swindle unlike his many predecessors and muster votes in their pockets!