Sensing the panic created by the drought situation, the state government has decided to increase the amount of the contingency fund to tackle the crisis from Rs 150 crore to Rs 550 crore.
The decision to add Rs 400 crore to the contingency fund to be used for water and fodder supply was taken in the state Cabinet meeting on Friday night.
Over 7,000 villages that cultivate kharif crops in the state have been officially declared as drought-hit. The state has so far spent Rs1,000 crore on drought management in these regions.
The state is also considering reducing the fodder rate from Rs80 to Rs32 for a kg, in accordance with the norms of the Central government. According to sources, two senior NCP ministers objected to the price reduction, terming it unnecessary. Ultimately, it was decided that the final call would be taken by chief minister Prithviraj Chavan after consulting senior officials.
The government on Thursday released Rs 250 crore from the state relief fund.
Union agriculture minister Sharad Pawar, who was in the city on Friday, said the drought situation was "alarming" and there was a need for urgent measures to overcome the water shortage. He asked his ministers to visit the drought-hit districts and hold taluka-level meetings to plan for water and fodder provisioning till July 15, 2013.
"The guardian ministers, publicity ministers and MLAs of the affected areas in the three divisions of Aurangabad, Pune and Nashik should hold taluka level meetings to prioritise water use," said Pawar.
A central team that visited the state to oversee the drought scenario had recommended a relief of Rs778 crore for drinking water and cattle fodder camps. Pawar said he would clear the relief and send it across to the state government in a week. "It may not be enough. We are looking at ways to provide additional relief," he added.
Pawar said that the CM had earlier suggested that people from Jalna should be moved out in the summer. "It is not possible to move out 3 lakh people. But, the situation is serious. Another suggestion was to provide water using railways. But, all the affected area are not connected by rail," he said.
New Policy For Sezs
The state has drafted a new policy that allows investors of special economic zones to exit and replace their projects with integrated industrial zones. Also, a plan, 'Magnetic Maharashtra, Brand Maharashtra', was tabled before the Cabinet on Friday.