Maharashtra staring at water famine: Yogendra Yadav

Swaraj Abhiyan finds a grim water situation in Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh

GN Bureau | June 2, 2016


#Swaraj Abhiyan   #Bundelkhand   #Uttar Pradesh   #Madhya Pradesh   #Marathwada   #Maharashtra   #Water scarcity  

Photo: Arun Kumar

 “In Maharashtra the water scarcity has already turned into a water crisis and is fast progressing towards a water famine,” said Yogendra Yadav of Swaraj Abhiyan after completing 11-day long  Jal-Hal Padyatra from Marathwada to Bundelkhand.

“People are accessing the last possible reserves of water. A large number of villages are now entirely dependent on external and very infrequent supply through tankers. Several villages receive this supply only once in 15 to 20 days and that too for less than an hour,” said Yadav while addressing the media in Delhi on the completion of 250 km of padyatra. 
 
The campaign organized by Swaraj Abhiyan’s Jai Kisan Andolan, Ekta Parishad, National Alliance of People’s Movements and Jal Biradari started on May 21 from Sonwati village of Latur District in Marathwada and ended at Mahoba town of Bundelkhand on May 31.
 
Yadav said that private tanker suppliers with political patronage are having a free run in the region. Bottling plants have mushroomed and retail sale of water is taking place. The situation is relatively better in Bundelkhand, but people are forced to live water-deficient lives.
 
“In Bundelkhand, cattle and wildlife is largely affected,” said Yadav. “From our observation, it is clear that domestic and wild animals are facing a famine in Bundelkhand. Every village that we visited reported anything between 10 to 100 cattle deaths in the last month that could be attributed to drought. Taking a conservative average of 30, it works out to one dead animal per day per village.”
 
Ironically, the drought affected states have failed to comply with the Supreme Court order. The order mandates that National Food Security Act quota of ration must be offered to every resident of drought affected regions, irrespective of the category of their ration cards (priority/non-priority) and even if they don’t possess one.
 
“In Maharashtra there are many households that do not have any ration card at all and are not receiving any subsidised foodgrain whatsoever. Even those holding ration cards do not get the mandated quantities and in some cases get very poor quality foodgrain,” he said. 
 
In Uttar Pradesh, the situation is a matter of concern. “To deny people ration, devious machinations seem to have been adopted – either the list of beneficiaries was curtailed on illegal grounds of owning tractors, being income tax assesses etc. or the number of members of the family was reduced. State officials openly admitted this system of denial in public meetings,” said Yadav.
 
“In MP too, the state seems blissfully unaware of it legal obligation to comply with the law and the directions of the Supreme Court. Virtually no MNREGA [Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act] work is happening. Even farmers haven’t been compensated for crop loss,” he said.
 

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