As nine districts in the state face acute water shortage and the threat of drought looms large, chief minister Prithviraj Chavan, accompanied by deputy CM Ajit Pawar and other cabinet colleagues, held a review meeting in Pune on Saturday and said the state government was capable of handling the situation.
Chavan refused to make any comment on Union agriculture minister Sharad Pawar’s criticism, saying he did not want to get into any controversy. Chavan said he had written a letter to the Union agriculture ministry, requesting it to send a team to take stock of the situation. “The team is expected to visit the areas on Monday.” He said 10 districts, including Pune, Satara, Sangli, Kolhapur, Ahmednagar, Nashik, Dhule, Latur and Osmanabad were facing hardships.
The government has authorised tehsildars to tackle the situation to avoid administrative delay in these districts, he said, adding that district collectors have been asked to conduct day-to-day review meetings and take immediate relief steps.
Chavan said power supply to all those water schemes, which were disconnected due to non-payment of bills, would be restored immediately to supply water. Also, tehsildars have been asked to either purchase or hire water tankers. “Cooperative sugar factories will be asked to put water tankers in the villages, which have no wells.”
Chavan hoped that scarcity of cattle fodder will be over by April 15, when fodder grown on 35,000 hectares in Maharashtra would be available. “We will send the fodder, wherever demand would be made,” he said. He said the state would establish contact with Karnataka to solve water scarcity problem in parts of Sangli.