Even as the government in the weekly Cabinet meeting on Wednesday announced that the state is close to recovering from the drought-like situation - most districts have received adequate rainfall and 100% crop sowing has taken place – several ministers complained that they were not getting enough money to deal with drought.
The meeting reviewed the drought situation at length, at the end of which the government determined that Marathwada, where the reservoirs still have only 14% usable water stock, could become a major concern in the days to come. The situation is drastically different from last month, when the government had announced drought in 122 talukas.
Patangrao Kadam, relief and rehabilitation minister, complained to Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan that the finance department, headed by NCP leader Ajit Pawar who is also deputy CM, was not releasing adequate funds despite reminders. The state has sanctioned close to Rs2,000 crore from its coffers to tackle drought and has petitioned the Centre for a grant of Rs3,761.61 crore.
The drought is being assessed for the state and the Centre in two stages – a preliminary report is expected by September 15, and the final decision will be taken after December 15.
On Wednesday, ministers from western Maharashtra and Marathwada demanded that the state continue the fodder depots so farmers can feed cattle as well as the tankers for drinking water. It was decided that Sangli, Osmanabad and most of Marathwada villages will get tankers, but not fodder depots as yet.
In another decision related to natural calamity, the Cabinet approved Rs73 crore for mango farmers in Konkan. The state is also expected to approve financial aid for rain-affected areas in Vidarbha.