19 districts in Rajasthan famine-hit

Jaipur: The desert state of Rajasthan is in the grip of a water crisis with 19 out of the 33 districts being famine affected, with the government sending water trains to parched Bhilwara and tankers to other areas facing acute shortage.

Nearly 17000 out of the total 44672 villages are facing water crisis and transportation of water through rail in Bhilwara and by tankers in other areas has already started by the state public health and engineering department.

"We have already allocated Rs.50 lakh to each district to carry out necessary works to improve water supply. Transportation of water has been started from Nasirabad to Bhilwara and water is being supplied through tankers in other parts of the state where it is required," PHED Minister Kiran Maheshwari told PTI.

"90 per cent of water-related schemes in the state are dependent on ground water but the ground water table is going down therefore surface water is also being used. Repairing of handpumps is underway in the state and alternate arrangements are also being made," she said.

She said that 2-3 handpumps are being repaired in a day by labourers and the department has decided to procure mounted mechanized vehicles so that 7 handpumps could be repaired in a day.

Presently, 421 teams are working to repair nearly 7 lakh handpumps. She said that at the cost of Rs.10 lakh per day, water is being supplied to Bhilwara through trains. Water tankers are also being sent to the places facing water shortage.

Ajmer, Banswara, Baran, Barmer, Bhilwara, Chittorgarh, Churu, Dungarpur, Hanumangarh, Jaipur, Jaisalmer, Jalore, Jhunjhunu, Jodhpur, Nagaur, Pali, Rajsamand, Udaipur and Pratapgarh are the districts which are famine affected. Superintend Engineer of the department Akhil Kumar Jain said 7364 villages are the worst affected due to water shortage and said efforts were being made to minimise the drinking water crisis.

PCC President and former chief minister Ashok Gehlot has demanded relief works from the government. Gehlot demanded an emergency plan to meet the challenge and to provide relief to people in water crisis.

"The government should ensure water supply through tankers otherwise it may create a law and order problem in the state. The government has not started relief work which should have been already started," Gehlot told reporters. Pilot also said that the government should prepare a policy to provide relief and should make proper arrangements for fodder and water for cattle, and potable water for public.

This year, rainfall was deficit in nine districts of Bhilwara, Bharatpur, Dholpur, Karauli, Sawaimadhopur, Jaipur, Alwar, Dausa and Pratapgarh.

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