It brings relief to the state’s parched regions, albeit with a dash of politics to it.
The state government on Friday declared 129 of the state’s 355 tehsils, mostly from central Maharashtra, as water scarcity-hit. With this, Chief Minister Ashok Chavan has ruffled feathers, upsetting Cabinet colleagues, especially from other regions of the state.
They too wanted Chavan to declare a scarcity-like situation in their regions prior to Assembly polls. It would save them voters’ ire and could fetch votes in their kitty. Of the 129 tehsils, 107 are in Chavan’s home region — Marathwada besides Chandrapur and Yavatmal in eastern Vidarbha. A scarcity-like situation can lead to scarcity if crops worsen due to low rainfall. If it prolongs, it can assume drought-like proportions.
A disgruntled minister from western Maharashtra, who belongs to the Congress, said on anonymity that the scheme could even be extended across the state as things were no better in other districts.
Another senior minister from Vidarbha said his colleagues from other regions who are affiliated to the Congress and Nationalist Congress Party, wanted Chavan to consider their pleas. “The decision would have helped our parties before the polls. We’ll try to get our demand approved before the election code of conduct comes into force.”
As per official figures, crops in 129 districts are most hit. “We have reports from district collectors that agricultural produce will reduce by over half this kharif season as there is no adequate rain,” said Additional Chief Secretary (Relief and Rehabilitation) Ramesh Kumar.
Chief Secretary Johny Joseph is slated to meet the Union Cabinet Secretary on Saturday. Chief Minister Ashok Chavan, who was in New Delhi, could not be reached for comment. A top bureaucrat said Chavan would ask Singh to release about Rs 1,300 crore the state had spent on relief measures since 2007. “We’ve asked the Centre for a fresh grant of Rs 488 crore.”