summer of crop failure, water crisis, starvation deaths and suicides looms over
Bundelkhand, a parched region espoused by Congress leader Rahul Gandhi.
Just 10 days ago, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the Gandhi scion had
addressed a rally at Banda and announced sops, including a Rs 200- crore
drinking water scheme, for the region.
But the over 10,000 villages in the politically important
zone of Uttar Pradesh present a very grim picture with the rise in temperature.
The situation is not better even in those villages where development has been
Take the case of Banda's Goira Mugli, the village of state
rural development minister Daddu Prasad. There are 400 handpumps and 10 wells
for a population of 10,000. But still the people here don't have water to drink,
let alone for irrigation. While wells have dried up, 250 handpumps are not
working. One can draw only one bucket of water from each of the remaining 150
"The water table has gone down. Last summer, we used to draw
two buckets of water in 10 minutes. We fear that next summer there would be no
water at all in these pumps," Kallu, a villager, said. "I don't remember the
last time when I drank more than five glasses of water in a day," Naeem Khan
(40), another villager, said.
The UPA government had approved a Rs 7,266- crore package for
the region in 2009 and also additional grants of Rs 1,800 crore in the last two
fiscals for UP and MP - the two states under which Bundelkhand falls. However,
these measures seem to have yielded little success in alleviating the problems.