In a small village in Bundelkhand, the water that emerges from creaking hand pumps, is rarely more than a trickle. The squirt is brown, but the women lined up, desperate for water, fill their pots with it anyway and then head home.
- No Latur-like problem here, UP government says in letter to Railways
- If we need water, then we will inform the Railways, the letter adds
- Centre had sent 'water train' to help the drought-affected Bundelkhand
Today, a water train dispatched from Madhya Pradesh was stopped at Jhansi with Akhilesh Yadav's government informing the Centre that its intervention was poorly conceived and unnecessary. Instead, the state says, it wants thousands of water tankers to be sent to the area, arguing that even if a train pulls in, tankers will still be needed to distribute the emergency supply.
Uma Bharti, Water Resources Minister, said the state government's decision is "arrogant" despite the Chief Minister being "a young and well-educated person." She stressed, "The PM has said to us that there should be no politics over the food and drinking water of the poor people".
However, another controversy arose in the fact that the train, which was stopped at Jhansi, did not, in fact, have any water on board, according to Ajay Shukla, the District Magistrate. Railway officials said there was no clarity on just who is responsible for filling the special wagons designed to carry water.
The peculiar refusal of the train may be indebted to the fact that Uttar Pradesh, India's most populous state, votes next year- and taking credit for providing any degree of succor to an area burnt by drought is becoming a contest, said local leaders of the BJP.
The ruling Samajwadi Party accuses them of trying to organise a water train to undermine the assistance provided by the state government through relief packets of food and other supplies.