Chief minister Prithviraj Chavan has said that the state government’s efforts to tackle drought will not be limited to temporary relief work, and will include putting up a system to provide long-term solutions.
“Normally, the government’s efforts are limited to providing assistance and waive debt or taxes. It is time to go beyond that and put in place a system for solutions such as water conservation,” Chavan said on Monday.
The state government will seek Rs2,100 crore from the Centre for the purpose. The issue was discussed by Chavan with PM Manmohan Singh during the latter’s visit to the city last week.
Chavan said his government will restore water bodies and build check dams to block water where major irrigation projects are not possible. “Big dams are not feasible because of the cost and the delay in building them. The approach needs to be changed and we need to build small, feasible irrigation projects,” Chavan said.
He said that work pending on canals that are a part of dam projects will be completed on priority. In areas where acquiring land for new canals is a problem, existing canals would be dredged, or rainwater drains would be constructed. New plans and funding for such projects would be discussed by a state delegation in a meeting with Union agriculture minister Sharad Pawar on Friday.
Chavan’s new approach towards situation is significant following the debate in government circles over the way drought was announced in the state. Wary of an anti-incumbency wave, the Congress and the NCP decided to change the norms for drought and have added more tehsils to the list of affected areas. This also means the government may have to curtail certain developmental schemes and divert the money for drought relief.