Mumbai: A day after all the four phases of Lok Sabha polls were completed in the state, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has written a letter to the Election Commission asking to relax the Model Code of Conduct, to deal with the problem of the drought. More than half the state is reeling under severe drought as the state government has declared 141 talukas out of the 355 talukas as ‘drought prone’ in October 2018.

Of these, 112 talukas are facing a severe drought, whereas 39 are facing a moderate drought. The Centre has passed a budget of Rs 4714 crore for drought relief in the state. Meanwhile, in his letter, Fadnavis has stated, ‘the state has to approve and complete the digging of wells, repair and maintenance of drinking water pipelines’.

Repair of canals and several other drought related works in drought prone areas has also begun, which he says cannot stop at this juncture. “The Centre has already approved the aid of Rs 4714 crore to deal with the drought, but there is a need to call for a cabinet meeting for taking the decision on disbursement of drought relief funds,” the letter stated.

The Election Commission of India (ECI) had already clarified that the model code of conduct will be applied till the days of the results of the Lok Sabha polls. Fadnavis has insisted the state government needs to release the funds at the earliest to help deal with the looming problems.

“EC should allow us to call for the bids and allocate the work after approving the bid to conduct work in the drought affected areas. These bids are mainly construction or renovation of civil hospitals, work related to Municipal Corporations and villages,” the letter said.

The CM has also sought permission to exclude those officers who are on Election Commission duty. He drew attention of the EC to a similar situation in 2009, when similar work was allowed. The chief minister has asked the EC to permit ministers to visit drought affected areas and take review meetings to ensure the state can implement schemes to help them combat drought.