89 Laturs' in Rajasthan await relief measures

Rajasthan government had demanded Rs 10000 crore from Centre for relief measures but received a paltry Rs 1193 crore.

Jaipur: The ‘water train’ to parched Latur in Maharashtra has grabbed national attention but there are 89 such ‘Laturs’ in Rajasthan where drought is a regular visitor that comes knocking every alternate year since independence.

After an initial spell of reasonable rain in the last few years, monsoon played truant once again last year, triggering a severe drought in 19 districts out of 33 in the state. The worst affected areas include Jaipur, Udaipur, Barmer, Bhilwara, Banswara, Rajsamand, Baran, Dungarpur, Ajmer, Pratapgarh, Jodhour, Pali, Jalore and Churu.

What has added to the woes is lack of ground water at most places. A report by ground water board says that water levels have dropped due to excessive extraction, which is up by 20 to 25 per cent in the last five years.

“We have been looking for ground water sources but since they are not available, the only option left is to transport water from where it is available,” PHED minister Kiran Maheshwari said.

According to state government’s contingency plan 46 crore litres drinking water for villages and six crore litres for cities is required on daily basis for 14487 villages and 89 towns identified as worst affected.

The state government had demanded Rs 10000 crore from the central government for drinking water supply and other relief measures but received a paltry Rs 1193 crore. However, despite nearly Rs 1400 crore in its kitty, the state government has sanctioned only Rs 57 crore for drinking water supply for three months.

However, Maheshwari said that contingency plan was prepared well in advance and Rs 50 lakh each were sanctioned to Superintending Engineer in every district to ensure drinking water supply.

Yet, water transportation is expected to begin only by the next week even though people have taken to streets at many places to protest against erratic water supply.

The situation is reminiscent of 2003 when acute water shortage had forced the state government to dispatch water trains to nearly a dozen towns and over 128 villages.

In fact, Bhilwara, a city dubbed as ‘Manchester of Rajasthan’ for being home to nearly 800 units including some famous names like Siyarams, Mayur and Bhilwara suitings and turnover of around Rs 17000 crores has been quenching its thirst courtesy a water train since then.

Even now, Bhilwara is the only city getting water supply through train. Since January this year, the train has been carrying daily 25 lakh liters water but even that is sufficient only to supply water once in four days to the people.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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