The Maharashtra government today declared drought in 14,708 villages, where the average annewari (value of crop) has declined below 50 per cent. The state revenue minister Eknath Khadse made this announcement following strong demands made by opposition parties and various non-government organisations. With today's announcement the state government will soon approach the Centre for financial assistance.
Khadse also announced a slew of measures including 33.5 per cent rebate in current electricity bills of agriculture pumps, waiver in examination fees of students from schools and colleges, relaxation in land revenue, deployment of tankers as per the requirement in those villages. Besides, the government will ask the state distribution utility MahaVitaran not to disconnect power supply to agriculture pumps especially during the rabi season.
Besides, the government also directed the district administration to immediately start centres to procure cotton, soyabean, maize. The decision to announce drought and relief measures was taken by Khadse-led cabinet sub-committee.
Khadse said that the state received below 75 per cent rainfall during June and September. He said the closed regional water supply schemes will be restarted for the benefit of drought-hit villages. Currently some of these schemes were not in operation for lack of payment of electricity bills. However, the minister added that the divisional commissioners and district collectors will be asked to use the reserve fund to clear dues and restart their operations.