Mumbai: Facing criticism for using the term ‘drought-like,’ instead of ‘drought’, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Wednesday declared drought in 151 of the state’s 355 talukas, in 25 of 36 districts. Effectively, this means more than two-thirds of the state is drought-ridden.
On October 23, a “drought-like” situation was declared in 180 talukas and Fadnavis had said that only after the visit of the Centre’s assessment team, would drought be declared. But under pressure from the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party leaders for his injudicious use of the term ‘drought-like’, Fadnavis seems to have recapitulated. So, without waiting for an inspection by the Central team, Fadnavis has announced most parts of the state are reeling under drought.
The standard operating procedures and relief schemes will be immediately applied in these areas. According to an official from the revenue department, drought in the state was last declared in 1972. With the CM’s declaration on Wednesday, farmers are exempt from paying bank instalments and dues on crop loans. “The ground verification was done and based on indicators of rainfall deficit, reservoir storage, ground water index and soil moisture,” said a state offiical.
As per a government order, 112 talukas are facing severe drought, while 39 are facing moderate drought. The 26 districts comprise eight districts each in Vidarbha and Marathwada, five districts in North Maharashtra, four districts in western Maharashtra and Palghar district in the coastal Konkan region. In all 26 districts, the moderate and severe drought areas overlap in many talukas. Jalgaon in north Maharashtra has 13 talukas under severe drought, followed by Ahmednagar and Beed (11 talukas each), Solapur and Aurangabad districts (9 talukas each).
Other districts are: Pune, Sangli, Satara, Palghar, Dhule, Nandurbar, Nashik, Jalna, Nanded, Parbhani, Osmanabad, Hingoli, Latur, Akola, Amravati, Buldhana, Washim, Yavatmal, Chandrapur, Nagpur and Wardha.
Fadnavis, told the Free Press Journal that the state has taken measures to tackle the situation. The district administration has been told to cultivate fodder in open spaces, near lakes, to save transport time and expenses. “The issues will be fodder for livestock and scarcity of drinking water,” he had said. The Opposition had accused the BJP-led government of shirking its responsibility by not declaring drought in the state and hiding behind vague terminology such as “drought-like” or “scarcity-like” conditions.