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Assembly discusses State’s drought situation

Assembly discusses State’s drought situation

Thiruvananthapuram: Cutting across party politics, members in the Assembly on Wednesday voiced concern over the severe drought prevailing in the State even as Chief Minister Oommen Chandy announced that Rs 159 crore had already been sanctioned to face the situation.

During a three-hour debate on an adjournment motion moved by CPM-led LDF Opposition, members from ruling Congress led UDF and Opposition LDF wanted government to take more steps to tackle the "unprecedented" drought scenario.

LDF members came down heavily on the government for its alleged "lethargy" in handling the situation.

Winding up the discussion, Chandy said Kerala was facing the "worst" drought situation in State’s history with temperature reaching 41 degree Celsius. This was for the first time that incidents of sun stroke were reported, he said.

Giving details of the steps taken by the government, he said instructions had been given to district authorities to take necessary steps like ensuring supply of drinking water.

He said the government anticipated the situation like this and that was the reason for declaring the entire State as drought hit way back in December last itself. The work to face the challenge had already been started, he said.

On opposition criticism that the State had not taken any effective steps to receive the deserved quantum of water from Tamil Nadu under the Parambikulam-Aliyar River Project, Chandy said State had sent three letters to its neighbour. But, that State had only mentioned about "their difficulties and problems". There was a deficiency of 1.24 TMC of water during the current water year from Tamil Nadu, he said.

Kerala had already taken steps to move Supreme Court to ensure that the State gets its due share of water from Tamil Nadu under the Parambikulam-Aliyar River Project, he said.

On the charge that the State had failed to make sure necessary financial assistance from Centre, Chandy said the State had already submitted a memorandum seeking a financial package for Rs.7888 crore when a Central team visited the drought affected districts.

Now the situation has worsened and the State would revise its demand and submit a new memorandum seeking assistance for the loss suffered in the agriculture, power, irrigation and other allied sectors due to drought", he said.

Considering the severe heat condition during day time, the working hours of labourers who work in open space has been regulated from today till April 30. All workers in open work site would be given interval between 12 in the noon to 3 pm, Labour Minister Shibu Baby John said.

Opposition leader V S Achuthanandan said paddy cultivated in more than 30,000 acres of land Palakkad district had been destroyed due to drought.

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