Drought list sparks flood of complaints
Leaders from talukas that are not on the list of drought-hit areas register protest; local Congress units threaten hunger strike against exclusion.
The state government’s list of 122 drought-hit talukas has triggered protests from within the Congress and the NCP. Leaders from talukas that were left out of the list have registered their displeasure with their respective parties.
The state’s Congress office has started receiving complaints from local leaders who allege that the government’s declaration was made in haste. A few senior Congress leaders have also expressed similar sentiment. Party units from talukas not on the list have threatened hunger strikes to demand ‘justice’.
State Congress president Manikrao Thakre did not deny the development. “Surprisingly, constituencies of many senior ministers have made the list. The ministers should look beyond their talukas as well,” a Congress leader said.
A senior leader from the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) said his party colleagues too wanted the government to review the announcement and include more talukas. The Opposition, however, was more guarded. BJP legislator Devendra Fadnavis said his party was studying the government decision but added that all was not well in areas that were excluded from the list.
Chief minister Prithviraj Chavan, who was in New Delhi to meet a group of minister led by Union agriculture minister Sharad Pawar, said the decision was not final. Chavan said the implementation of drought-related benefits would start only from December 15. “We will plan and execute this as per the Centre’s norms,” he said, adding that the state would assess tentative crop yield in affected areas by September 15.
Chavan said that final assessment of yield in every affected village would be done by December to shortlist beneficiaries. The talukas that have yield below 50 paisa would finally be declared as drought-affected. He said that such villages would also get benefits like free-ship in schools, electricity bill waiver, restructuring of farm loans and land revenue waiver.