If the state continues to get deficient rainfall in the remaining two monsoon months, the drought-like situation in Maharashtra could turn grim.
The mandarins in the state administration have predicted that if this trend continues there will be a severe drought across 15,000 villages in 100 talukas of Maharashtra. So far, rainfall has been deficient in 288 talukas out of 355, and sowing operations have been below normal in 202 talukas. Senior officials said the problem has been compounded as this is the second consecutive year that the state has witnessed scarcity. Last year, nearly 7,500 villages were affected.
Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan said: “The rain is 22% less than the average every year and eight talukas have received less than 25% rain, which has raised concern. We need to get long- and short-term measures in place to deal with this situation.”
Chavan informed the legislative council that the state will need an additional Rs 500 crore to deal with the rain-deprived areas and problems of farmers. He said an all-party delegation will approach prime minister Manmohan Singh for additional funds.
So far, the state has announced a Rs 2,685 crore drought package but the opposition as well as ruling party legislators have criticised it, dubbing it a continuation of several central schemes.
“The Rs 2,685 crore that the CM mentioned is an annual feature and not special to the drought. Till now the state has kept aside only Rs 225 crore for drought emergencies. But we need about Rs 1,000 crore to deal with the situation,” Vinod Tawde, leader of opposition in the council, said.
Meanwhile, the state cabinet seems divided over the drought issue. “Who announces a drought in July? It is a water-scarcity situation and not a full-blown drought. Before announcing packages, some thought should go into where this is money is going to come from,” said a senior minister, who did not wish to be named.
The state cabinet has not given a go-ahead so far to terming the situation as drought, or clearing an additional package proposed by the relief and rehabilitation department.