Patna: Chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi dropped a bombshell in the legislative assembly on Wednesday, saying district magistrates (DMs) were misleading him about the drought conditions in the state. He also expressed distress over the attitude of some top bureaucrats who did not want him to speak to the DMs even as he wished to know about the drought conditions from the ground.
A visibly anguished Manjhi informed the Bihar assembly some top officials told him a CM was not supposed to talk to the DMs. They even informed him his predecessors used to speak to only senior officials, not the DMs. “One of them told me ?you are setting a new precedent by talking to the DMs directly. The previous CMs would leave the conference hall after talking to senior officials’,” Manjhi said.
Needless to say, Manjhi’s “outburst” was greeted with thumping of desks by the opposition members. The JD (U) members looked on quietly.
Manjhi ignored the advice of senior officials. “I have directed the DMs to visit the affected areas. I also told them not to send only the rainfall data,” he said.
“Patna DM ne mujhe dhokha diya; he told me there were no signs of drought in the district. But when I went to Dulhin Bazar under the Naubatpur block in the district on a personal visit, I saw parched lands between Danapur and Dulhin Bazar. There were no signs of irrigation anywhere. Some farmers were irrigating land with the help of diesel sets for sowing paddy. They told me the canal water was not reaching them as an embankment has been created in the upper stream. I talked to the water resources minister who told me the Bihar government paid Rs 6 crore to the MP government for release of Sone canal water from Bansagar dam (on Monday). The water will be released soon.
“The situation is contrary to the claim of the DMs who told me only Arwal and parts of old Shahabad got less than 20% rainfall. I am pained with the conduct of officials who misled me. I am giving one more opportunity to them. I shall be confronting the DMs again on Friday or Saturday. I have told the chief secretary also to get fresh updates on drought conditions. I won’t hesitate in declaring drought in Bihar,” the CM said.
The CM also sought a special debate on drought conditions in Bihar. The Speaker said a special debate for an hour would be held on Friday afternoon.
Leader of opposition Nand Kishore Yadav hailed the CM’s statement and appreciated his efforts to know the ground reality. RJD member Dinesh Kumar Singh, who had been sitting on dharna on the assembly premises since Monday to draw the government’s attention towards drought conditions in Bhojpur district, called off his agitation following the CM’s statement.