Monday January 27, 2020
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Embarrassment for Badal government as top functionary begins fast

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Amritsar, Punjab’s Parkash Singh Badal government had to face an embarrassment on Saturday when Chief Parliamentary Secretary Navjot Kaur Sidhu started a fast-unto-death, saying her assembly constituency was being neglected in terms of development.

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indianexpress.com

Sidhu, the wife of cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu and a sitting Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) legislator from Amritsar-east constituency, started the fast near the Bhandari Bridge in this Sikh holy city along with her supporters.

That Navjot Kaur Sidhu chose to begin her fast-unto-death on the occasion of the 69th Independence Day has further embarrassed the Badal government.
“I have started the protest to get funds and projects for my constituency,” Navjot Kaur Sidhu told the media at her protest site.
Navjot Kaur Sidhu had, in recent months, raised the issue of neglect of her assembly constituency and non-release of funds several times but failed to get any favourable response.
Navjot Kaur Sidhu, a doctor by profession, is entrusted with the work of the health department as a chief parliamentary secretary.

The post of a chief parliamentary secretary is junior to a minister but carries most of the perks, privileges and protocol associated with a minister.

The Shiromani Akali Dal and the BJP have been running an alliance government in the state since 2007.

On being asked about the protest started by the chief parliamentary secretary, Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal dismissed the issue saying “the SAD-BJP alliance was an everlasting one and it was an unflinching bond”.

Former Amritsar MP and BJP leader Navjot Singh Sidhu had also announced a fast-unto-death in Amritsar in September 2013 to protest against the apathy of the Badal government towards the Amritsar Lok Sabha constituency.

He was the sitting MP of Amritsar at that time. However, the fast was called off at the last moment after Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and then BJP president Rajnath Singh intervened and pacified him.

(IANS)

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PM Narendra Modi Launches Plan to Tackle Water Shortage in India

Modi Unveils Plan to Tackle Water Shortages in India's Heartland States

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PM Modi
India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaks to the media inside the parliament premises on the first day of the winter session in New Delhi, India. VOA

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday launched a 60-billion-rupee ($842 million) plan to tackle water shortages in the country’s seven heartland states where agriculture is a mainstay.

India, the world’s second-most populous country, faces the worst long-term water crisis in its history as demand outstrips supply, threatening farm output and overall economic growth in Asia’s third-largest economy.

Almost every sector of the $2.6 trillion economy is dependent on water, especially agriculture, which sustains two-thirds of India’s 1.3 billion people.

“Water shortages in the country not only affect individuals and families; the crisis also has an effect on India’s development,” Modi said. “We need to prepare the new India to deal with every single aspect of the crisis.”

The plan launched by Modi would help replenish ground water and boost overall availability in Rajasthan, Karnataka, Haryana, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Gujarat states, which produce staples such as rice, wheat, sugar and oilseeds.

PM Narendra Modi
The plan launched by Modi would help replenish ground water. Wikimedia Commons

India is the world’s leading producer of an array of farm goods, and nearly 60% of the irrigation for agriculture comes from ground water, mainly through electric water pumps. Subsidised electricity gives farmers an incentive to pump out more water, a key reason behind fast-depleting water tables in the vast country.

Supplying clean drinking water to millions of poor people and reviving moribund irrigation projects were a key part of Modi’s policies for India, where the monsoon accounts for nearly 70% of the annual rains needed to water farms and recharge aquifers and reservoirs.

Nearly half of India’s farmland, without any irrigation cover, depends on annual June-September rains to grow a number of crops.

Drinking water is also an issue, as about 200,000 Indians die every year due to inadequate access to safe water and 600 million face high to extreme water stress, according to the National Institute for Transforming India (NITI) Aayog, a think tank chaired by Modi.

According to UK-based charity WaterAid, about 163 million people in India — roughly 12% of the population — do not have access to clean water close to home.

Also Read- 45% Indians Feel that Enough Steps are Not Taken for Women’s Safety: Survey

Every summer water shortages tend to be more acute in large cities such as the capital New Delhi, Chennai — a car-making center dubbed “India’s Detroit”, and Bengaluru, the country’s software capital.

Modi also exhorted farmers to increasingly adopt drip and sprinkler irrigation and use water-management techniques as well as eschewing water-guzzling crops such as rice and sugar cane. (VOA)