A 10-member central team has started a three-day tour of the drought-hit regions of Maharashtra, spending barely a couple of minutes at various locations, raising the hackles of farmers and activists.
The visit, dubbed a 'flying survey' by locals, started on Wednesday and has covered some of the worst-hit areas of Jalgaon, Sangli, Jalna, Parbhani, Solapur and its surroundings. On Friday, it shall cover parts of parched Vidarbha.
"However, owing to the language barriers, they barely interact with the farmers anxiously who wait for them for hours, cursorily glance around and get back into their air-conditioned vehicles," locals told mediapersons.
On an average, the central team managed to cover a grueling 300 km daily, or roughly 1,000 km during the three-day tour, to verify the government's claims on the drought situation.
Many farmers were piqued that the central officials barely discussed the burning issues of drought, shortage of water for drinking, cattle and irrigation, besides shortage of fodder for farm animals.
Vasantrao Naik Sheti Swavalamban Samiti (VNSS) Chairman Kishore Tiwari said though the state government had demanded Rs 7,000 crore as immediate drought relief from the Centre, the grave question of crop failure had not yet been taken up.
"The relief sought is for insufficient or failed monsoon. But the real crisis is lurking elsewhere in the form of crop failure of cotton and pulse farmers in large parts of the worst-hit Vidarbha and Marathwada. This has increased the spate of farmland suicides in recent months and the situation could worsen in coming months," Tiwari told IANS.
Tiwari lashed out at the central team for conducting its crucial survey as a "emere formality" and demanded that state officials who understand the local language should accompany such teams for a meaningful interaction.
Even before the monsoon bowed out this year with an estimated average of 77 percent rains (in the state), the government was compelled to declare drought in 151 talukas spread across 26 districts in end-October and sought urgent central assistance.
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