A Conversation Between An NRI & An MLA From Drought-Hit Latur
In spite of being an NRI staying in the US, Suresh Ediga never misses an opportunity to stand beside the marginalised people of India. For many years he has been an active volunteer in several social campaigns, which includes Bhopal Gas tragedy victims, Soni Sori, Land Acquisition, Call campaigns to MLAs and MPS, RTI etc. He is a member of NRISamay and many other organisations, he also spearheads an organisation called i4farmers. Suresh is an avid advocate of RTI and is involved in countless projects that concern community and welfare of citizen.
Lately, he had a conversation with Sambhaji Patil, the MLA of the drought-hit Latur, Maharashtra. In the conversion Suresh has raised several questions on the role of the government in helping the drought-affected areas in the state.
Suresh: The drought is not an overnight situation, the conditions have been ignored for far too long, leading to these conditions. Why has the govt. failed to prevent the situation?
MLA: There are multiple reasons.
1) There are 10 sugar factories, most of them belonging to the previous two CM’s. The sugar factories were given permissions without the necessary support for water canals, drip irrigation, thus the ground water table got depleted. Even the drinking quota water was used for sugarcane farming.
2) Sugarcane farming doesn’t use drip irrigation
3) only 1% of the land is under the forest cover.
4) Latur Municipal corporation has poor water management. There are leakages and other issues which need to be addressed.
Suresh: What actions is the govt. taking?
MLA: 1) We are planning on enforcing drip irrigation for sugarcane farmers
2) Make rainwater harvesting mandatory for everyone
3) Water ponds to be used by the farmers
Suresh: These are long term, what is being done in the immediate short term?
MLA: 1) Water is being transported to Latur city (other regions in Latur don’t have acute water shortage) from places as far as 300 Kms away from Latur
2) food grains are being distributed to the people
Suresh: What about the minister who flew in a chopper to Latur? What was the need for the minister to make such a trip?
MLA: Actually the minister should be credited for working all the logistics from the start to finish to help transport the water. What would otherwise take 18 days, thanks to the minister, it took only 8 days for everything to come together.
Also the helipad is made of black concrete which is very low maintenance since the surface is extremely hard and doesn’t need that kind of water to maintain them.
Suresh: The programs such as rain water harvesting, need to save water, planting trees have to be taken up seriously by anyone. Do you plan to run any public campaigns?
MLA: Yes, the college students also showed lot of interest and would be joining in these efforts.
Suresh: How can individuals help?
MLA: Help with the public campaign efforts, to take the message about water and plants to the people.
Suresh: Would you mind if I check back in a couple of weeks on how things are progressing?
MLA: Yes, absolutely.
The Logical Indian urges the people of our country to engage to our representative public officials, whenever they feel the need of. We have to deal with the problems of our area and for better administration we choose a representative in the government. So these representatives are answerable to for addressing problems in the area.