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Dry state awaits Kalam touch

Jaipur, Nov. 14: President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam has sought a report from Rajasthan Anshuman Singh on the starvation deaths in the state and the overall drought situation and has also conveyed his desire to visit the affected areas.

Singh then asked the state government to prepare a report and has personally visited two drought-hit districts to take stock of the situation.

Kalam is expected to visit the state in December or January. Chief minister Ashok Gehlot said he was in constant touch with Rashtrapati Bhavan and hoped the Presidentís interest in the matter would boost relief measures.

Kalam, he revealed, would come down for a two-day visit and the dates were being finalised.

Relief minister Gulab Singh Shaktawat informed that the Governor had sought all the reports submitted so far on the starvation deaths and the drought situation which were furnished along with various official reports.

However, the Governor, he said, has asked for additional information.

Before leaving for the Mount Abu conclave of Congress chief ministers last week, Gehlot had ordered a fresh enquiry into the starvation deaths by additional chief secretary R.K. Nair, who is yet to submit his report. Shaktawat said Nairís report, too, would be sent to the Governor.

Singhís tour of the drought-hit areas when Gehlot was away in Mount Abu had sent senior officials into a panic as they were taken by surprise.

However, it now appears that the Governorís unusual move was prompted by the Presidentís message.

Sources say Gehlot believes the state would benefit if the President, the Vice-President and the Prime Minister visit the drought-affected areas.

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