Central team faces the heat in drought-hit Prakasam

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ONGOLE, APR 19,
An inter-ministerial Central team that visited Prakasam district on Wednesday to assess the severity of drought had a bad experience on Wednesday as a group of people in Bestavaripeta village blocked the convoy demanding adequate drinking water supply to them.
“There is no end to our water woes as the Cumbum tank has gone bone dry,” the upset villagers told Central team leader B. Rajender, Union Joint Secretary(Crops) and sought his intervention.
Collector promises help
Police personnel providing security to the team members cleared the way to them to proceed ahead with their visit to the tank, one of the biggest in Asia. District Collector V. Vinay Chand later promised to arrange for water tankers.
The situation was no different in Kandulapuram village, where sweet orange and lime growers waiting under the hot sun for long to pour out their woes, shouted slogans when they did not get a chance to represent their problems to the Central team.
Highlighting the woes of farmers, Congress Markapur Assembly segment in-charge Sk.Saida said a series of failed bore wells presented a pathetic picture of peasants in the district.
Winding up the whirlwind visit of some of the drought-affected areas in Markapur division, including Podili, K.K. Mitla and Tarlupadu, Mr. Rajender said they would submit a detailed account of the “grim” drought situation in the district and recommend Central assistance as per norms.
The District Collector explained to the team members, including Rajeev Singhal from the Central Water Commission, Nita Tahiliani, Assistant Commissioner, Department of Animal Husbandry and G.R. Zagar, Consultant, Union Ministry of Drinking Water, that the crop loss during rabi was ?1,182 crore and sought an immediate Central assistance of ?236 crore to take up drought mitigation measures on a war-footing, including provision of input subsidy of ?125.60 crore to the affected farmers.
As many as 1.65 lakh farmers lost more than 33% of their crops, Agriculture Joint Director J. Muralikrishna said.
The district administration had spent ?36 crore for transportation of water through tankers to 280 habitations till date and it would require about ?42 crore to scale up water supply through tankers to 510 habitations during peak summer, Mr.Vinay Chand explained.

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