Even as Rural Development Minister Chaudhary Birender Singh informed the Lok Sabha that 25 per cent of India’s population was reeling under drought, the second day of discussion on the issue again saw poor participation by MPs.
Less than 100 members were present — slightly better than last week, when 80 MPs attended the discussion on drought.
On Tuesday, several MPs including BJD’s Bhartruhari Mahtab, TRS’s A P Jithender Reddy and Congress’s Rajeev Satav raised the issue of delayed response from the House on drought, as well as poor attendance of MPs.
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While around 20 MPs from the Congress sat in the Well to protest against the PM’s utterances on Sonia Gandhi regarding the chopper deal, other MPs demanded farm loan waiver, long-term measures for water conservation, increase in MGNREGA manhours and interlinking of rivers.
Replying to the debate in the din, Birender Singh said 313 districts, 1,58,205 villages and 4,44,280 dwellings in the country have been hit by drought. While 13 states are affected by drought, only 10 have declared themselves drought-hit. He also said the government wanted “national consensus” on contentious issues like inter-linking of rivers.
He said Rs 1,360 crore had been allocated to states like Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Odisha, Uttar Pradesh and Karnataka well before the drought. Over 9.33 lakh hand pumps have either been restored or repaired, and MNREGS funding has been increased, he added.