New Delhi: Union Minister Uma Bharti today strongly defended charges that the Centre reacted late to India's drought crisis. She said it is perhaps for the first time in history that water trains have been sent to combat drought.
- Ms Bharti alleged corruption in irrigation schemes during Congress rule
- First time in history water trains were sent to combat drought, she said
- 40 per cent of the country received deficient rainfall in 2015
But when asked about using water trains and tankers as a last resort according to government rules, she said that 'drought is a phenomenon for which it is pointless to plan in advance'.
Ms Bharti said that last year - contrary to predictions - there was rainfall. This may turn out to be a contested claim given that the 2015 southwest monsoon ended with a shortfall of 14 per cent, the worst since 2009. Also despite a late surge, almost 40 per cent of the country had deficient rain in the entire season, especially parts of Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra and Odisha.
Ms Bharti, however, said that water is a state subject and that she has traveled to drought-hit states, giving stern lectures to state governments to take steps to counter water crisis.
She also blamed corruption in the Maharashtra's previous Congress-NCP government's irrigation schemes for the state's water crisis. She said the previous government had emptied the coffers and that she will expose this at the appropriate time.