NEW DELHI: A question in Lok Sabha on drought today led to a war of words between the treasury and opposition benches, with Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh attacking erstwhile Congress-led governments alleging that dams were built in Maharashtra to serve the sugar industry and not the farmers.
When Singh was replying to a supplementary by a Shiv Sena member during Question Hour on whether government will extend relief to the Ahmednagar district of Maharashtra for drought, some Congress members asked whether the relief would be extended.
An agitated Singh shot back, telling Congress members to have the "patience and courage" to listen to his reply. He alleged that dams were constructed in Maharashtra to serve the interests of the sugar industry and not the farmers. "I demand a discussion on Maharashtra drought so that facts can come to light," he said.
There was another round of heated exchange when the Minister said, in an apparent reference to UPA rule, that for the past several years, states were getting funds for MNREGA scheme very late, often in the months of July-August.
He claimed now the government has decided to provide the funds to the states "within 24 hours" of the budget being cleared.
Responding to a question on investment needed to complete irrigation-related projects, he said 89 such projects are pending for the past 20 years. Now, the government has decided to complete some of them, he added.