EVEN AS several areas in West Bengal, particularly West Medinipur and Purulia districts, continue to grapple with drought-like conditions, the state government on Wednesday claimed that the situation is not alarming but they have taken “preemptive measures” to tackle the crisis which is currently affecting 20-28 lakh people.
“There has been no rainfall for a long time. This has precipitated a water crisis. There is scarcity of drinking water. The situation is still not alarming. But we are taking preemptive steps to ensure that people do not face major hardships. The problem is more acute in the West Medinipur and Purulia districts, though there are very few areas where there is no water,” said Public Health Engineering Minister Subrata Mukherjee here.
He added that as many as 20-28 lakh people are affected by the lack of rainfall, which is likely to hit crops production in West Bengal.
After a meeting with various concerned officials, Mukherjee said that his department, along with zilla parishads and other offices, were working together to tackle the situation. He added that he had urged district magistrates to ensure that people do not panic. “We are taking both short-term and long-term measures,” the minister said.
These measures taken by the Trinamool government under the ‘Vision 2020 plan’, Mukherjee said, include piped water supply schemes such a partially commissioned one at Barasukhjhora in West Medinipur and 1000 solar pump-based piped water supply system in various districts.
Meanwhile, distressed farmers of the state have written to the state government expressing their worry on the prevailing crisis and demanded restructuring of loans. Kashi Patra, a peasant leader in Dhanikhali said the “near-drought-like situation” was compounded by the fact that the many ponds and rivers had also dried up in the heat.
Water reservoirs at the Damodar Valley Corporation are a major source of irrigation in Dhaniakhali from December onwards. After the monsoon, water replenished in the reservoirs is used for cultivation of potato, paddy, jute and vegetables between January and May. However, there was almost no rainfall between August and December last year.