Though the state government declared drought in parts of the state on Wednesday, the people affected are unlikely to get immediate relief.
A top official in the government told HT on Wednesday that the Cabinet deferred announcing a comprehensive relief package fearing it would burden the state exchequer further. "Immediate relief would mean spending hundreds of crore of rupees, because the area affected is almost one-third of the state, with a population of more than three crores," said the bureaucrat who did not wish to be identified.
Another official too said the state had been delaying the drought announcement because of financial implications. "But the government had no other option because the Centre would give major relief only when drought is declared," he said.
Farmers in states like Rajasthan, which have Congress-led governments, are luckier than their Maharashtra counterparts, as their governments have already announced land revenue and power bill waivers.
Pravin Pardeshi, principal secretary (relief), said that for the moment, the state had decided to provide water tankers and run fodder camps. "We will have to wait till crop yield is assessed in the affected areas in a couple of months," he said.
Farmers in drought-affected regions are entitled to relief measures such as land revenue and electricity bill waiver, free fodder, free school education and employment guarantee for 365 days of year. The state has managed to extend the Central scheme to grant jobs for 150 days. But the state government will have to pay for work under the rural employment scheme if this term extends beyond 150 days. "And these extra days would cost a lot," said a bureaucrat who works with the employment guarantee department.