More than 73% villages of Maharashtra are drought-hit after the state government declared 938 more villages affected by the natural calamity.
The Rabi crops (sown during winter season) in the villages were ruined in the drought.
The total number of villages reeling under drought has now reached 29,610. Of them, 1991 villages harvest Rabi crops. The state has 40,559 villages.
The villages that are added to the drought-hit list are from Solapur and Ahmednagar districts. Both districts are in Western Maharashtra which is less affected by drought compared to Marathwada and Vidarbha regions.
The state government will give seven major exemptions to the farmers in the affected villages. This includes exemption from payment of land-related revenue, school and college examination fees, 33.5% discount on power bills of agriculture pump, restructuring of crop loans and a stay on debt recovery.
Relief and rehabilitation minister Eknath Khadse confirmed the decision, saying it was taken after getting fresh reports from the collectorates.
Crops that are grown during monsoon are called Kharif crops while those grown during winter season (between October and March) are called Rabi crops.
“This is for the first time that such a huge number of villages have been affected by drought,” said a senior official, requesting anonymity.
The state government has been supplying water to Latur through railway wagons since April 11. The total water
stock of the state has started reducing drastically, worsening the drought situation. Within a fortnight, the total water stock has come down from 19% to 16%.