5-yr-old girl dies of thirst while walking on foot to relative's house in Rajasthan

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Jodhpur, Jun 8 (PTI) In a heart-wrenching incident, a five-year-old girl died of dehydration and her grandmother fell unconscious after they were unable to find water to drink while walking on foot to meet a relative in the sun-baked barren lands of Rajasthan's Jalore district.

The incident which sparked outrage and drew flak for the state authorities took place on Sunday afternoon in the Raniwara area when Sukhi (60) and her granddaughter Manju (5) were on their way to meet a family member in Roda village.

On the way, they felt thirsty but could not find any water as the place was uninhabited, Station House Officer Padma Ram said.

The mercury soars to over 40 degrees Celsius in most parts of the state during this period. Later, some shepherds spotted the duo from atop a small hill and informed the village sarpanch who called the police. The police rushed to the spot and both were taken to the hospital where Manju was declared dead while Sukhi is undergoing treatment, he said. 'We rushed to the area which was not motorable. We found the girl had died while the old woman was unconscious due to dehydration,' the SHO said.

The body was handed to her family members after post-mortem, he said. Expressing grief over the incident, Union Jal Shakti Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat on Tuesday attacked Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, saying depriving the people of the state of a basic amenity like water for politics was a 'grave sin'.

In a series of tweets on Tuesday, the union minister slammed the state government for not utilising the budget it received for the implementation of the Centre's Jal Jeevan Mission, a scheme to provide tap water to households.

'It is ironic that on one hand tap water has reached millions of people in other parts of the country while a young girl died of thirst in Rajasthan,' Shekhawat said.

He said that Rajasthan ranked 29 among 33 states and UTs in giving water connections in rural areas.

Rajasthan was allocated Rs 2,522 crore for providing tap connections under the 2020-21 budget of the central government but only Rs 630 crore was spent, the union minister said.

'In 2021-22, the state was allocated Rs 10,180.5 crore under the mission which was four times the previous budget,' Shekhawat said in a tweet in Hindi.

BJP State President Satish Poonia said that the death of the girl child due to thirst is a matter of shame for the Ashok Gehlot government.

Poonia said that the Centre has made a provision of more than Rs 10,000 crore under the Jal Jeevan Mission in the year 2021-22.

'Despite this, death due to thirst is a big stigma on the state,' he said. PTI CORR MA AG RT RT