SP walkout to protest sending empty water train to Bundelkhand

SP walkout to protest sending empty water train to Bundelkhand

 Samajwadi Party members today walked out of Rajya Sabha charging the Centre with playing petty politics by sending an 'empty' water train to drought- hit Bundelkhand region of Uttar Pradesh.

SP members alleged that while the Centre has not heeded to state government's requests for additional funds for tankers and dam to deal with drought in Bundelkhand, it sent the water train without speaking to the state government.

Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu refuted the charge of playing water politics, saying a steam-cleaned, 10-wagon train was on the way to fill water at Jhansi before going to the drought-hit areas.

SP members were not satisfied with the reply and wanted the minister to apologise for playing with the sentiments of people. They staged a walkout of the House soon thereafter.

When the House met, Naresh Agarwal (SP) raised the issue saying the Centre had not contacted his party's government in UP before deciding to send the water train to Bundelkhand.

The train, he said, was empty and contained no water when it reached Bundelkhand.
The state government had sought central funds for building dam, water tankers, de-silting ponds and handpumps, none of which was agreed to by the Union Government, he said.

"State government did not ask for water train. They asked for funds which you didn't give. Can a Minister do water politics? The Minister should resign," he said referring to Prabhu.

Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi maintained that the government was not playing politics on drought and water crisis in some parts of the country.

The state government should properly utilise the Bundelkhand package extended by the Centre. "Central government is willing to extend more help," he said.

Sharad Yadav (JD-U) said there was serious crisis in Bundelkhand and no politics should be played on the issue by sending an empty water train.

SP members trooped into the Well of the House raising slogans against 'water politics'. Amid the din, Deputy Chairman P J Kurien got the listed papers laid on the table.

Mayawati (BSP) said 50 districts of Uttar Pradesh were facing drought and both central and state governments should rise above party politics and think about solving the water crisis.

If a water train was sent by the Centre, the state government should have accepted it and exposed that it was empty, she said.

Rajeev Shukla (Cong) said it was not appropriate for the Centre to send the water train without consulting the state government.

In his response, Prabhu drew a parallel with the water train sent to Latur in Maharashtra saying a train has to be steam cleaned for it to transport portable water.

Steam cleaning facility is only available at Kota in Rajasthan and so when water train was to be sent to Latur, it was cleaned at Kota and then it travelled empty to Miraj in Maharashtra where it was filled and the water transported to Latur, he said.

Similar provision was made for Bundelkhand, he said adding a new 10 wagon train was cleaned at Kota which then travelled to Uttar Pradesh.

Water is being filled in the train at Jhansi after which it will go to Bundelkhand, he said, adding water was being filled from within the state that needs it.

"We dont want to play any politics," Prabhu said adding he had yesterday spoken to Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav. "We are ready to provide whatever help is needed."

But SP members were not satisfied and wanted an apology from the minister.
Kurien said the minister has already stated that he has communicated with the Chief Minister and so the issue raised by SP members raises was over.
SP members were however not satisfied and walked out of the House.

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