With the entire northern region of the Indian Subcontinent reeling under an intense heat wave, this season is proving to be one of the worst India has witnessed in recent times; with temperatures soaring above normal, oftener than ever. Adding to the plight of the farmers in North India — the worst-affected region — is the prevailing water-shortage and lack of irrigation facilities, leading to a drought-like situation.
Bundelkhand Drought Crisis
In Bundelkhand, a region in Uttar Pradesh, a similar water crisis was stopped in its tracks by the timely interventionist policies of the Akhilesh Yadav-led Uttar Pradesh government. ₹40 crores has been set aside for new hand-pumps in Bundelkhand and other areas severely affected by drought. The total number of hand-pumps already installed has risen from 2560 to 3226. Apart from that, ₹200 crores has also been issued for meeting miscellaneous needs for these regions and assist in their development in the face of the ongoing water crisis. Along with this, 400 water tankers have already been delivered by the Uttar Pradesh government to equitably distribute water among these regions reeling under water shortage.
In April this year, the Uttar Pradesh government announced monthly free ration to the 2.3 Lakh families residing in the drought-affected districts of the Bundelkhand region. This will greatly help these families overcome this time of crisis, exacerbated by low-productivity in the farming sector and the heat wave that’s killing the crops. Not only this, the Uttar Pradesh government has also promised that the Samajwadi Drought Relief Ration Material supplies will not be stopped, and will continue with the regular PDS distribution of grains for the Antyodaya families.
As he spoke and interacted with the thousands of families coping with the effects of the drought, he stated, “The state government has directed that more and more people in Bundelkhand be covered under the Samajwadi Pension Scheme, so that the financially weak persons have money in their hands. For this, the selection criteria will also be tweaked to cover the maximum number of persons.”
For individuals who wish to acquire real-time information about the water-supply situation in Bundelkhand, the Uttar Pradesh government has also launched an online portal (http://bundelkhand.in/portal/) to assist with queries and other data related to Bundelkhand.
100 Pond Restoration Scheme
The “100 Pond Restoration Scheme” has been launched by Akhilesh Yadav simultaneously with all the other measures aimed at improving land-irrigation in the drought affected regions.
Each pond will store around 60 million cubic meters of water, and this will help in permanently eliminating the possibility of droughts in the future.
Another massive project worth ₹1,988 crore for transporting surface water from one area to another is in the pipelines, awaiting the Central Government’s approval. The Uttar Pradesh government has also ensured 24-hour uninterrupted power supply in the region, to provide relief from the unrelenting heat wave.
Akhilesh Yadav also handed out special ration supplies in Chitrakoot and Mahoba, which are also suffering from drought-like conditions, and the Chief Minister has already made several trips to these areas in order to better gauge their conditions and determine solutions to their water-supply problems.
Moreover, keeping in mind the fact that low land productivity and lack of water affects the incomes of the farmers adversely, the Akhilesh Yadav-led Uttar Pradesh government increased the minimum number of working days per year (in Bundelkhand and adjoining districts) under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme from 100 to 150 days in a year. This will ensure greater working days, and help in combating the losses in income earnings.
With one of the worst water-crises this region has witnessed in years averted, the Uttar Pradesh government has proved, once again, that it will respond to disasters and emergencies with alacrity and diligence, and that it will leave no stone unturned in its attempts at improving the lives and living conditions of the millions in Uttar Pradesh.
The Akhilesh Yadav-led Uttar Pradesh government is a ray of hope to the lakhs of farmers in drought-affected districts, and Akhilesh Yadav has fulfilled his promises by assisting them in every way possible in their time of need. The Uttar Pradesh government’s efforts are what policy-makers throughout the country look up to, and wish to follow.