EVEN AS Bundelkhand continues to reel under an acute shortage of water, the Centre and the state government have locked horns over resolving the crisis. While the Ministry of Railways sent a 10-wagon train on Wednesday to facilitate supply of water in the affected areas of the parched Bundelkhand region, the Uttar Pradesh government denied need of such wagons claiming that they have enough resources to tackle with the crisis, which is “not as serious” as in Maharashtra’s Latur.
The state government, however, requested the Centre to provide it 10,000 empty road tankers on Friday for distributing water in the region.
The empty wagons reached Jhansi railway station on Wednesday from Ratlam workshop and are currently stationed in the station’s rail yard where it will be coupled with 10 more wagons, said North Central Railway (NCR) Chief PRO Vijay Kumar. He claimed the railways had inquired with the District Magistrates of Mahoba and Jhansi on Tuesday on filling these 20 wagons with water whenever need arises.
“However, DMs of both the districts gave in writing that they do not have any requirement of water supply with rail wagons and they are supplying water in affected areas with their own road tankers,” added the CPRO.
Kumar admitted that railways has made no arrangements in NCR region for filling of these water wagons. “If demand for water train comes, it will be sent to the nearest place where facility of filling would be available,” he said.
Meanwhile, Chief Minister’s office tweeted on Thursday: “UPCM @yadavakhilesh requests GOI for 10,000 road tankers to distribute water in Bundelkhand from available water resources around the region (sic).”
The state government also tweeted that district officials of Jhansi were ensuring water supply to affected regions through road tankers. Another tweet stated that CM Akhilesh has instructed the DM of Jhansi to verify if the ‘water train’ is even carrying water or not.
“We do not have any requirement to bring water by train …We have made arrangements for providing water…Wherever tankers are required, an assesment has been made and tankers have been bought,” Chief Secretary Alok Ranjan told PTI.
“There is no such crisis (that we need) to bring water from outside,” he added. Chitrakoot Divisional Commissioner, L Venkateshwarlu said the situation was under control in his division comprising Mahoba, Chitrakoot, Banda and Hamirpur districts and there was no requirement of the water train so far. He added that local bodies of urban and rural areas have been asked to procure or hire tankers to supply water in the areas affected by water crisis. “There is at least one handpump in every village and water was also being fetched from tubewells, both government and private, to ensure water to these people of these areas,” Vekateshwarlu said.
Meanwhile, ruling Samajwadi Party has accused local BJP leaders of asking the Centre for a water-train to snatch credit from the Akhilesh Yadav government, which has distributed relief packets in the region.
SP spokesperson Rajendra Chaudhary, issued a statement Thursday evening, stating, “There is water in ponds but the problem is with supply of water to villages. Tankers are required for that purpose. But, the central government is doing a drama of providing water by train.”
He further claimed that the state government was already supplying water in affected districts of Bundelkhand by engaging 402 tankers — 47 in Jhansi, 34 in Lalitpur, 152 in Banda, 62 in Mahoba and 92 in Chitrakoot. In a similar refrain, senior UP minister Shivpal Singh Yadav said in Kanpur, “We do not need water from outside…When we will need water, we will ask for it…Where will we store it if it comes through train like this?”
The CM will meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi to discuss the crisis in Bundelkhand in New Delhi on May 7, official sources said.
WITH PTI INPUTS
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