It’s official now. The Maharashtra cabinet has declared drought in 122 talukas — more than a third of the 355 talukas in the state.
The declaration was made largely to enable the state to seek a financial aid of Rs3,000 crore from the Centre. Sources in the government said a state needs to declare drought before it can apply for Central assistance.
A suggestion to this effect had come from none other than Union agriculture minister Sharad Pawar, who heads an empowered group of ministers that deals with nation-wide drought.
A delegation led by chief minister Prithviraj Chavan will meet Pawar’s group of ministers on Friday to seek the assistance. Pawar and his cabinet colleagues visited Mumbai a couple of weeks ago to review the situation.
The list of affected talukas was drawn up on the basis of rainfall received and the percentage of sowing of the kharif crop - acute water shortage has affected the crop and created a fodder scarcity.
According to official statistics, reservoirs across the state have an average 52% water stock (62% in the corresponding period last year) as the average rainfall recorded has been a mere 82% (it was 98% in the corresponding period last year).
Reservoirs in the Marathwada revenue division have a meager 9% water stock, while Nasik has 41%, Amravati 56%, Pune 61% and Konkan is at the highest with 82% of water stock.
The number of affected talukas is likely to increase further as other talukas that have received less than 50% of normal rainfall, and have crop sowing below 50% will also be declared drought-affected.