A day after the Yogi Adityanath government tabled its Budget in Assembly, the Opposition on Wednesday questioned it on measures taken to counter the floods that have ravaged many parts of the state including Gonda, Bahraich and Kheri, and the recent hooch tragedy in Azamgarh. Though the CM assured the House his government was “serious” about the issue and had taken steps in the direction, opposition leaders demanded that there should be at least a two-hour debate on flood control.
The question was first raised by Congress Legislature Party leader Ajay Kumar “Lallu”, who asked the government what steps it had taken to prevent loss of life and property due to floods. Adityanath responded by saying that this was not the first time the state is facing such a situation, adding that some districts were suffering more due to an increase in rainfall this year.
“We have established flood control rooms in every district and are closely monitoring every flood affected district,” said Adityanath. As Kumar raised the issue of security in villages located near dams and alleged that they are often “neglected”, the CM said his government was working on to find a “permanent solution” to this problem as well. Stopped from raising a supplementary question on the issue, with Speaker Hridaya Narain Dixit pointing out that the CM had already “clarified” on the matter, Kumar staged a walkout with other Congress legislators.
Leader of Opposition Ram Govind Chaudhary, BSP Legislature Party leader Lalji Verma as well as CLP Ajay Kumar demanded a debate on the floods. “It is a very sensitive issue which members of both the Opposition as well as ruling party want to talk about. There should be a debate of at least two hours,” said Chaudhary. Speaker Hridaya Narain Dixit said that the matter can be taken up by the business advisory committee of the House. To this, Parliamentary affairs Minister Suresh Khanna also informed the House that considering the seriousness of the issue, Government has earmarked Rs 169 crore for floods from its contingency funds this year.
During zero hour, BSP leader Sukhdeo Rajbhar also drew attention towards the recent hooch tragedy in Azamgarh claiming that as many as 28 lives were lost due to illicit liqour but neither any minister of the government visited the area nor any help has been announced. He demanded Rs 5 lakh for the families of each victim and also strict action on those involved in the business of illicit liquor. Ajay Kumar of Congress demanded Rs 10 lakh as compensation and debate on this issue as well and was supported by his party MLA Aradhna Mishra.
Parliamentary affairs Minister Suresh Khanna informed the house that while his government has no intention to hide the incident or reduce the number of victims but they have got confirmation about death of only 12 victims so far. He informed the House that a team headed by a ministers would visit the victims in next two days and hand over assistance of Rs 2 lakh to families of each victim. As Sukhdev Rajbhar of BSP demanded that a special group of members of both Opposition and the ruling party should be formed to look into the incident, Khanna informed that a magisterial inquiry under additional district magistrate (finance and revenue), Azamgarh has already been ordered and further action would be based on the report submitted by him.
He further said that an FIR has been lodged against those found guilty and the government was already in the process of imposing the Gangster Act on the culprits. Khanna said that while the state government was taking necessary steps, they also need to spread public awareness about the harmful effects of illicit liquor.
While SP legislature Nitin Agarwal pointed out “unconstitutional appointments” in the present government, which was denied by Khanna, members of Opposition and those sitting on the treasury benches started accusing each other of appointment of officers of a particular caste. To this, Chaudhary said, “Samajwadi kabhi jatiwadi nahi hota”. Later, Nitin Agarwal again raised the issue, calling the oath taken by two deputy chief ministers as “unconstitutional” saying there is no such provision in the Constitution as one can take oath either as chief minister or minister and deputy chief ministers can later be assigned by chief minister. While the state government rejected the allegation, the Speaker agreed to run it by the experts committee. The Opposition also requested for election of a deputy speaker in the House, citing that BJP leader and present Finance Minister Rajesh Agarwal was elected for the post during the Mulayam Singh Yadav regime. It was agreed that the issue would be taken up later on.