Faced with a drought-like situation in nearly half the state (15 out of the 33 districts), the state cabinet on Wednesday had a long discussion on water scarcity. A section of ministers complained against the government’s tight-fistedness in providing relief, and overall poor implementation of relief measures.
It was suggested by some senior cabinet ministers that Rs 10 crore be provided as a relief package to the 11 most severely affected tehsils to improve their water harvesting systems.
While ministers said that the cabinet cleared this decision, there was no official confirmation from the department.
“There was some discussion on this but no decision has been taken to provide this Rs 10 crore to 11 talukas. We expect the Centre’s package for scarcity soon,” said relief and rehabilitation secretary Praveen Pardeshi.
Some ministers like Rajesh Tope and Jaydutt Kshirsagar complained that the administration measures to tackle drought had been poor in areas like Marathwada. There was also an overall complaint that figures collated at the secretariat levels were not right, and that tankers were often dispatched to villages where water was available instead of those facing water scarcity.
Marathwada is facing an acute crisis with only 14% of water remaining in the reservoirs of its dams. Osmanabad is the worst-affected district here. By the end of the hour-long discussion, the cabinet cleared a slew of relief measures like compensation of Rs 8,000 per hectare for pomegranate, grape, orange and sweet lime cultivators, doubling the relief for fodder of animals from Rs 40 to Rs 80 (cattle) and from Rs20 to Rs40 (smaller animals like sheep and goats).
The state government has also called for setting up of a cell at the collectorate level to monitor relief measures.