Govt moves as sum­mer of dis­con­tent beck­ons

MNREGA wages, ma­te­rial dues re­leased to soothe ru­ral dis­tress

Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai) - HT Navi Mumbai Live - - FRONT PAGE - HT Cor­re­spon­dent let­ters@hin­dus­tan­times.com

NEW DELHI: Tem­per­a­tures have be­gun surg­ing past nor­mal lev­els and a heat wave has taken hold in sev­eral states, por­tend­ing a sum­mer of dis­con­tent with mil­lions of peo­ple al­ready hit by droughts and sun­stroke-in­duc­ing weather.

Since the month be­gan, more than a hun­dred peo­ple have died in Te­lan­gana and Andhra Pradesh while dis­tricts of Ma­ha­rash­tra have been bat­tling a se­vere drought and wa­ter crisis.

The Marath­wada re­gion is one of the worst hit and the state has de­cided to send tankers af­ter taps ran dry.

The un­usual April heat — signs of an in­ten­si­fy­ing but pos­si­bly nor­mal sum­mer, ac­cord­ing to weather of­fi­cials — comes amid crit­i­cism of state and cen­tral ad­min­is­tra­tions over re­lief mea­sures.

On Satur­day, t he Cen­tre re­leased Rs12,230 crore to pay MNREGA wages that had run into back­logs from the past year.

MNREGA, the ru­ral em­ploy­ment scheme, is a cru­cial source of earn­ing for many and of­ten the only in­come for thou­sands of fam­i­lies when har­vests fail.

The wa­ter crisis is al­ready a rag­ing is­sue in Ma­ha­rash­tra where the Bom­bay high court said IPL cricket matches be moved out of the state to save wa­ter. In Latur, one of the worst af­fected ar­eas, lo­cal au­thor­i­ties have im­posed or­ders to pro­hibit gath­er­ing of more than five peo­ple near wa­ter tanks un­til Mayend to stop any pos­si­ble vi­o­lence over wa­ter.

The agri­cul­ture sec­tor has as been reel­ing from two backto- back drought years and 91 reservoirs, crit­i­cal for stor­ing wa­ter for drink­ing, hy­dro-elec­tric­ity and ir­ri­ga­tion, were down by a third com­pared to last year’s lev­els on April 1. Ru­ral devel­op­ment min­is­ter

e Biren­der Singh said the fund re­lease would take care of pend­ing wage li­a­bil­ity of state­ses for the pre­vi­ous fi­nan­cial year and help run the pro­gramme dur­ing the cur­rent year.

While there is no in­di­ca­tion of the sum­mer con­tin­u­ing on a par­tic­u­larly harsh track, the In­dia Me­te­o­ro­log­i­calal De­part­ment ( IMD) forecast a heat wave un­til Sun­day in Bi­har, Odisha, Jhark­hand and the Gangetic plains of West Ben­gal.

“If you look coun­try­wide, then you’ll find that weather i n Pun­jab, Ra­jasthan and Haryana is cooler than what it is in south and cen­tral In­dia. By May, these states will be­gin to heat up. That’s the nor­mal pat­tern,” IMD deputy di­rec­tor­gen­eral BP Ya­dav said.

RE­LATED RE­PORTS, P7

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