With more areas pushing to fit the definition of drought as huge funds can come their way, the state government’s move to relax conditions for qualification has come as a silver lining.
The state’s relief and rehabilitation department has identified 115 more talukas as those that are likely to be included in the drought-hit list. The list had 64 talukas until last week.
“The state has not yet taken a decision to declare drought, but we are preparing. We have decided to change the qualification for 151 talukas under the Drought Prone Area Program. Now, areas that have had less than 75% rainfall and 75% crop sowing will be considered, against the earlier norm of 50% applicable for other talukas,” relief and rehabilitation minister Patangrao Kadam said on Tuesday.
Another consideration will be looking at levels in water bodies. Kadam said this change was made following complaints from legislators that their areas were badly hit, but are not getting any benefit. The state government is likely to put aside over Rs5,000 crore for drought management, and all the qualifying talukas will get a share. “The number is expected to rise as the rainy season will soon end,” he added.
Reacting to complaints of funds from the Mahatma Gandhi National employment guarantee scheme (MNREGA) not reaching the intended recipient, Kadam said that Rs270 crore had been released on Tuesday and had been sent to district collectors. “We have given collectors a deadline of 15 days to disburse the amount. The scope of MNREGA has improved 4-5 times, from Rs345 crore in 2010-11 to Rs1,600 crore in 2011-12,” he said.