Mumbai: Drought relief is becoming an exercise in semantics. The manual on Drought Management, released in December 2016 by the Union Ministry of Agriculture, states that only severely drought-affected villages can avail of relief and aid. But if one goes strictly as per this manual, 57 talukas of Maharashtra will not get any relief from the Central government.
This is because ‘moderate’ drought is no longer eligible for relief from the Centre. The 2016 manual makes it abundantly clear that such relief will be forthcoming only if the calamity is of ‘severe nature’. The manual prescribes five ‘new scientific indices and parameters’ for a ‘more accurate assessment of drought.’ These indices include amount of rainfall, soil moisture, hydrology and health of crops, based on which the state government makes an assessment of the severity of drought.
The earlier ‘paisewari’ method of measuring drought enabled farmers to get relief rather easily. In the ‘paisewari’ system, in a rainfall deficit period, if the crop yield was less than 50 percent of the average of 10 years, then that was considered a drought year. This, however, has been done away. Now, only if the calamity is of ‘severe nature’, the state governments can submit a memorandum for financial assistance under the National Disaster Response Fund.
Vijay Jawandhia, a farm activist and former founder of Shetkari Sanghatana, is critical of the new measuring method. “The government is shirking its responsibility of taking care of the affected farmers during a natural calamity. They are not responsible if it does not rain. We fear that the deliberate omission of many farmers from the gamut of relief may lead to more suicides,” he said.
Jawandhia added, “If the earlier method had been applied, more farmers would have got relief.”
The following talukas have been categorised as suffering from moderate drought. They are not entitled to drought relief under the Central schemes.
Jamkhed (Ahmednagar district), Balapur, Telhara, Murtijapur (Akola),Anjangaon Surji (Amravati), Kannad (Aurangabad), Ambejogai, Kej,Parali, Patoda (Beed), Lakhani, Mohadi, Pawani (Bhandara), Malkapur,Motala, Sindkhedraja (Buldhana), Bhadrawati, Brahmapuri, Chandrapur,Chimur, Gondpipari, Rajura, Sidewahi, Varora (Chandrapur), Dewari, Morgaon, Arjuni, Salekasa (Gondia), Jalna, Paratur (Jalna),Hatkanagale, Kagal, Radhanagari (Kolhapur), Shirur, Anatpal (Latur),Katol, Narkhed (Nagpur), Deglur (Nanded), Taloda (Nandurbar), Chandwad(Nashik), Lohara (Osmanabad), Palam, Parbhani, Selu (Parbhani),Shriwardhan (Raigad), Jat, Khalapur, Vita (Sangli), Karad, Koregaon,Wai (Satara), Vaibhavwadi (Sindhudurg), Akkalkot, Mohol (Solapur),Ashti, Karanja, Samudrapur (Wardha), Risod (Washim).