Four months after Maharashtra government sought financial assistance of Rs4,269 crore to mitigate drought, the Centre approved aid worth Rs1,269 crore on Wednesday. This is the second relief package granted by the Centre in the past 10 months to tackle drought and acute water shortage prevalent in many parts of Maharashtra until August.
However, the grant is far less than what was sought by the state in May. A high-powered committee headed by home minister Rajnath Singh took this decision in Delhi at a meeting on Wednesday. Confirming this, an official from the chief minister’s office (CMO) said the aid was approved following the recommendations of a central government committee that had inspected drought-affected villages earlier this year.
In December 2015, the central government had approved monetary relief worth Rs3,049 crore to deal with drought. However, when the number of drought-affected villages hit 29,610 — 70% of the 40,559 villages in the state — chief minister Devendra Fadnavis sought financial assistance from the Centre after deliberations with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The state had sought assistance worth Rs8,271 crore and has got half this amount — around Rs4,318 crore — so far.
“Our demand was not in accordance to the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) rules — under which the central government provides monetary assistance to states — as we already had received aid once. This led to a delay in the Centre clearing the proposal,” said a senior official from the relief and rehabilitation department.
The state provides compensation for damaged crops, exemption from payment of land-related revenue, school and college examination fees, a discount of 33.5% on power bills of agriculture pump, restructuring of crop loans and stay on debt recovery as relief to the affected farmers.