A week after a reluctant government offered some encouragement to cooperative institutions, drought-affected farmers in central Maharashtra have got 11 more cattle shelters.
Summer and winter crops failed in about 11,000 villages across the state this year, causing thousands of farmers to go bankrupt. In some areas, the crop failure has been up to 80-90% and the shortage of cattle fodder and drinking water has been a major concern.
Last week, the state government decided that the amount that a cooperative needs to deposit with the district collector be reduced to Rs 2 lakh from the existing Rs5 lakh. The decision yielded immediate results in the Beed and Osmanabad districts, where 11 more shelters were set up by cooperative sugar mills and milk societies.
"Seeing the positive effects of our decision, I have asked the cooperation department to convince more cooperatives to start such shelters," said forest minister Patangrao Kadam, who also heads a cabinet sub-committee of relief and rehabilitation, on Tuesday after the committee met. However, Kadam said no decision was taken to increase the grant of Rs 60 per big animal per day
The shelters will now provide fodder and water to animals. In return, the government will pay cooperatives a fixed amount per animal per day.
Many cooperatives have been unable to set up cattle shelters in the past because of the government's discouraging conditions. HT had first reported these grievances in January. Central Maharashtra has a cattle population of 8.50 lakh, but only 11 shelters are operational there, as compared to western Maharashtra's 405 camps run by cooperatives.