The state government will allocate 25% of the forthcoming annual budget for creating more water resources and its conservation and distribution in the backdrop of the acute drought situation.
Chief minister Prithviraj Chavan and deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar made this announcement in legislative assembly and council respectively on Wednesday.
They were replying to a two-day debate on mitigating the drought the state is reeling under due to deficient rainfall last year.
Chavan said the government will spend as much on providing water to the affected people.
“More tankers will be pressed into service in the future — the number may even increase to 5,000 [2,500 tankers are in use at present],” he said.
“Funds will be made available immediately,” he told the House.
Chavan said a grant of Rs. 2,200 crore that the state wants from the Centre would help in making 105 small water resource projects possible.
“I’m waiting for the Centre’s approval,” he said.
Denying the charge that the DF government lacked effectiveness, Chavan said that some important and innovative measures have been taken for the first time.
“We gave adequate money to the parched cities and towns as well.
We have not played any political game in implementing relief schemes in affected areas,” he said.
Pawar, who also heads the finance department, said that keeping aside 25% of the annual budget exclusively for water schemes is a never-before initiative. He said the state is helpless before nature.
“No ruling party would like to face such a problem. If rains do not occur, the dynamic administrators would not be able to do anything.”
He, however, said the state is geared up to tackle the situation.
“We have all plans in place to tackle this situation till July 31,” he added.
“If needed, we may also draw water from the Koyna dam,” Pawar said.
Pawar also blamed the heavy water consumption in Maharashtra on crops like sugarcane.
“The time has come to change the crop pattern, and we are working seriously on this front,” he said.