Visit drought-hit areas, submit reports by May 21: CM Fadnavis’s order
As the drought situation worsens with summer, chief minister Devendra Fadnavis on Sunday directed the guardian secretary of each district to visit drought-affected areas and submit their reports by May 21. The secretaries have also been asked to review the relief work taken up by the state. The directives come at a time when the Opposition is trying to corner the government over its failure to provide relief to drought-affected people.
Meanwhile, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar on Sunday resumed his tour of drought-affected areas, visiting villages in Satara district, interacting with farmers and visiting camps where the state provides fodder and water to cattle. On Monday, Pawar will visit villages from Ashti and Patoda tehsils of Beed district, considered one of the worst-affected districts in the state.
The state has only 16.38% water left in the dams, whereas Marathwada, one of the worst-hit regions, has only 4.87% water left in all its reservoirs. Of its nine major reservoirs, eight, including the biggest reservoir Jayakwadi, have zero water stock. Last year, the region had 24.28% water stock covering all of its 964 dams, while the state had 28.26% water in the reservoirs. As of now, more than 4,054 villages are getting drinking water through tankers.
According to rough estimates, more than 21,000 villages in the state are hit, as the state declared drought in 151 tehsils, 318 revenue circles and 4,518 villages. There are total 358 tehsils in the state and each revenue circle comprises 20-40 villages, while each tehsil comprises somewhere between 50 and 80 villages.
To deal with the situation, the state has deployed 5,174 water tankers to provide drinking water to the affected areas. Of them, a maximum of 2,756 tankers are providing drinking water in eight districts of Marathwada, said a senior official from the water supply and sanitation department. “The number of water tankers is going to rise in the coming days,” he said.
The state has deployed 1,054 tankers in Aurangabad district alone, the highest in the state, followed by Beed and Ahmednagar, with 830 and 771 tankers, respectively. “Fadnavis have directed all guardian secretaries to visit their respective drought-affected districts to ensure effective implementation of mitigation measures and submit a detailed report by May 21,” said a statement released by the chief minister’s office (CMO) on Sunday.
Just like ministers, the state appoints guardian secretaries who are responsible to monitor and review government-run welfare schemes etc. in their districts concerned. The chief minister has started holding review meetings of drought-hit districts on a daily basis from last Wednesday. Earlier, he had also directed all guardian ministers to visit the affected areas.
The issue is likely to take centrestage in the state considering the Assembly elections are scheduled after five months. Pawar said, “I am visiting drought-hit villages and meeting farmers to get first-hand information. After this, I will seek CM Fadnavis’ time and inform him about the actual scenario. I will ask the CM to take necessary steps.”
The former union agriculture minister also took a jibe at Fadnavis over his review meetings. “I read somewhere that the chief minister is holding review meetings on phone, which anyone can do. Those in power should come on ground and visit the areas in person, only then they will learn about the actual situation,” the NCP chief said.
The Congress, too, had criticised the state, saying the entire relief work was stalled in the name of election code of conduct. A delegation led by state Congress president Ashok Chavan also met governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao on Friday requesting his intervention. For drought mitigation, the Centre has approved ₹4,717 crore, of which they have released ₹4,248.59 crore in two installments