Says relief measures on cards, Central team to visit sites.
Mumbai: Chief minister Devendra Fadnavis on Tuesday declared a “drought-like situation” in 180 the state’s 353 tehsils. The Congress has demanded that the state should declare “drought” and not “drought-like situation.”
“The state has received only 77 per cent of its average annual rainfall. I have declared that 180 talukas are facing a drought-like situation, as per the norms of the Cen-tre, and immediate measures are being taken in view of the situation,” Mr Fadnavis told reporters after a weekly state Cabi-net meeting here.
He said relief measures were being undertaken, including concession in land revenue, educational fees, continued power supply for agriculture pumps and deploying tankers for supplying drinking water in talukas facing water scarcity. Mr Fadnavis said a Central government tea-m would soon visit the state and declare financial assistance.
Asked about the Oppo-sition’s criticism over a water resources department report that stated that the groundwater lev-el in 14,000 villages across 252 talukas has gone down by at least a metre, he said the state has received in-sufficient rainfall in the last three years. He rejected the Congress criticism of the government’s flagship water conservation scheme Jalyukt Shivar and said farmers had worked hard to make it a success. The Congress has alleged the scheme is beset with corruption and despite its implementation, groundwater levels have dropped alarmingly in the state. “The Congress is insulting farmers and villagers who toiled hard to make the scheme a success and made their villages drought-free. This scheme means there should be water (for conservation) even if there is less rain. It does not mean there will be water if there is no rain,” he said.
Mr Fadnavis said that the state received 80 per cent of its average rainfall last year, but farm productivity had still increased. “There was less water for three continuous years, so we are using that water in the ground for farming. Therefore, agricult-ural produce increased by 27 per cent. Since there have been insufficient rains, we have used the water conserved via Jalyukt Shivar for farming and hence storage is bound to go down,” he said.
Meanwhile, state Congr-ess chief Ashok Chavan has asked the state government to declare a full-fledged drought. “The state is facing a severe drought,” he said.