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Congress slams Maha govt over 'delay' in declaring drought

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Press Trust of India Mumbai
On a day the Maharashtra government declared drought in 26 of total 36 districts, the opposition Congress Wednesday accused the ruling dispensation of "delay" in making the announcement, which it said might deprive the state of the Central funds.
As per an order issued by the government, 112 talukas in the state are facing severe drought and 39 talukas a moderate drought.
Senior Congress leader and former chief minister Prithviraj Chavan also alleged the state government had failed to abide by the "2016 Central drought manual" under which it is supposed to notify Kharif drought by October 30.
"As per the manual, the state governments have to declare drought through a notification specifying clearly the geographical extent and administrative units such as gram panchayats, blocks, mandals, talukas, sub-division and districts.
"Such notification should indicate the level of severity of the drought (moderate or severe)," he said.
Chavan, who had served as the chief minister between November 2010 to September 2014, said the declaration of Kharif drought should be done by October 30 and that of Rabi drought by March 31.
"The state governments will declare the calamity as drought and not by any other nomenclature," he said.
The Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) had accused the BJP-led government of shirking its responsibility by not declaring drought and hiding behind vague terminology such as "drought-like" or "scarcity-like" conditions.
He said the Maharashtra government had issued an order, dated October 7, 2017 listing a procedure and time table that is supposed to be followed while declaring drought.
"Instead of implementing this procedure, the government is busy celebrating its fourth anniversary in office. Andhra Pradesh had declared drought on August 8 and Karnataka on September 14. The two states have already started implementing drought-relief measures," Chavan said.
He questionned whether the delay in declaring drought was due to "lack of funds" in the state exchequer.
"Doesn't it (the government) know that the Central funds will not be received due to delay in declaring drought. Who will be responsible if farmers take any extreme steps in the wake of such a crisis," Chavan questionned.
The NCP also slammed the state government for delay in declaring drought.
"As many as 100 talukas in the state are still reeling under drought," alleged Leader of Opposition in the Legislative Council Dhananjay Munde, hours after the drought was announced.
He demanded a compensation at Rs 50,000 per hectare for farmers who suffered crop loss due to drought.
Munde's counterpart in the Legislative Assembly and senior Congress leader Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil also echoed the same demands.
Maharashtra state Congress president Ashok Chavan said the government was "compelled" to declare drought because of the pressure being exerted by his party.
He said 20,000 village in 201 talukas are reeling under drought.
Chavan demanded "concrete steps" for drought mitigation.

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First Published: Oct 31 2018 | 9:25 PM IST

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