Maharashtra government to seek Rs 7000 crore drought assistance from Centre

Mumbai: The Maharashtra government will seek Central assistance of Rs 7000 crore for drought mitigation, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said Tuesday. He also said that since the government declared drought in October itself, the Central funds are expected to be received by January next year.

Speaking to reporters in Osmanabad, over 400 kms from here, Fadnavis said a proposal has already been prepared which will be sent to the Union government Wednesday. The state government had on October 31 declared drought in 151 talukas in 26 out of 36 districts. Of the 26 districts, eight districts each fall in the Vidarbha and the Marathwada regions, five districts in North Maharashtra, four districts in western Maharashtra and one district, Palghar, in the coastal Konkan region. The chief minister said the government has mentioned in its proposal that the Central funds would be used towards paying the crop loans of farmers, arranging fodder for animals and for drinking water purposes.

“We will also request the Centre to expedite the process of sending a Central team to assess the drought situation and submit its report,” he said, adding that his government has initiated relief measures swiftly. The opposition Congress had last month demanded a Central assistance of Rs 5000 crore while accusing the ruling dispensation of fiscal mismanagement. Hitting back at the Opposition which has been accusing the government of “failing” the farmers, Fadnavis said, “During the Congress tenure, insurance companies paid farmers only the premium amount they had paid for the losses incurred.

However, our government has ensured that the money paid was much more”. When asked to comment on the progress made by agencies investigating the irrigation scam, Fadnavis, who also holds Home portfolio, said chargesheets have been filed against more than 100 people and 25 fresh FIRs were registered recently. “The court has sought more information which the government is providing,” he said. The CM’s comments came two days after state unit BJP president Raosaheb Danve said senior NCP (Nationalist Congress Party) leader and former deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar can be arrested “anytime” in the alleged scam.

Pawar was among NCP ministers who were in-charge of the irrigation department at different times between 1999 and 2014 when the Congress and the NCP were part of the coalition government in the state. The scam, pegged at Rs 72,000 crore, relates to alleged corruption and irregularities in approval and execution of various irrigation projects in the state during the Congress-NCP rule. It was probed by the ACB. The NCP had said Pawar had no role in the alleged scam and accused the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of trying to vitiate the political atmosphere ahead of elections.


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