Alarm over desertification

HYDERABAD, MAY 8. The process of desertification has begun in the Rayadurg area of Anantapur district and houses and trees are slowly being encroached upon by sand dunes sending alarm bells ringing in the State Secretariat here.

Talking to presspersons after a video conference on Monday, the Chief Minister, Mr. N. Chandrababu Naidu, said that a scientist had been deputed to assess the calamity and recommend measures. A senior official would also be sent to the area to chalk out a strategy, he said.

The Chief Minister was angry that the district administration was not implementing water conserving and rainwater harvesting schemes properly leading to the development. On being told that manual labour was being employed mostly in desilting operations but not machines even during the emergency, he retorted: ``All of you seem to be planning to make Anantapur a desert. Opposition will be there from some quarters for every developmental programme. It does not mean you should stop doing the good work. I have released Rs. 80 crores to fight drought last year and this year Rs. 50 crores. What is the result?''

Unemployed persons could be given different types of work rather than desilting of tank beds, he said, pointing out that it would lead to quicker results and cost less.

The Chief Minister added that he was sending a circular to all Collectors to issue poclains for desilting works. District-level capacity building training centres would be established to ensure active participation of people in water conservation methods.

He cited the example set by Annaram village in Mahabubnagar district in turning green when the entire district was facing drought.