Under attack over dealing with the drought that has hit 10 states, the Centre today put the onus of addressing the situation on states while insisting that it is doing its bit to provide relief to those affected.
“We should not fight between Centre and the state. The role of Centre and state is different. It is clearly defined in the Rules. We can’t change it. The Centre’s role is to monitor and the state’s role is to provide assistance and help the affected people at ground level,” Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh said in Rajya Sabha.
“The central government does its bit, but every state governments should also do their best” in addressing the drought situation, he said.
Singh was replying to a short duration debate on drought situation during which opposition members criticised the central government, saying it was not doing enough, including in the context of releasing adequate funds.
Members of Congress, JD(U), SP and BSP staged a walkout, expressing dissatisfaction over the minister’s reply.
Earlier, Singh insisted that farmers are a priority for the central government.
“I don’t know if we are facing the consequences because of previous government but we know the prevailing situation and are taking adequate measures,” he said.
“We come from different states. We are all concerned about farmers. …We should also try to see what we can do in our own states to tide over the situation,” he said.
Talking about the steps taken by the Centre, he said it has eased norms for providing relief and even the allocation for State Disaster Response Fund has been raised.
Singh said the Met Department has forecast above normal Monsoon this year and hoped for better agriculture production in 2016-17 crop year (July-June).
Water Resources Minister Uma Bharti, during her intervention in the debate, said almost 30 crore people are facing the brunt of summer heat and drinking water problem.
The problem has aggravated due to consecutive drought in last two years, which has brought down the water level in 91 reserviors, she said.
As per the Central Water Commission (CWC) data, the availability of water in 91 major reservoirs in the country is lower by 11 million cubic meters at present, she added.
(With agency inputs).