Maha CM Fadnavis seeks funds from Centre as drought hits 28,000 villages in state

New Delhi: Battling drought in 28,000 villages, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Saturday sought increased funding for several central schemes as Prime Minister Narendra Modi reviewed the situation in the state with him in New Delhi.

Fadnavis, however, declined to share information on how much money the state has asked for from the Centre.

He said overall 28,000 villages have been hit by drought in the state across 20-22 districts. This includes the entire Marathwada region, West Vidarbha, districts of Ahmednagar, Solpaur and Sangli to an extent.

Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis. PTI

Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis. PTI

"In fresh scenario, the magnitude of the drought has increased and 11,000 more villages have been affected," he told reporters after the meeting with Modi.

The Prime Minister called for focus on medium and long term solutions for drought-proofing.

"CM @Dev_Fadnavis & I held wide-ranging discussions on the drought in parts of Maharashtra & how to mitigate it," Modi tweeted.

"Stressed on vitality of increasing water use efficiency through sprinkler & drip irrigation including in sugarcane cultivation," he added.

In another tweet, the Prime Minister said, "Usage of modern solid & liquid waste management practices in urban areas will also benefit the adjoining rural areas."

Fadnavis said the state government has chalked out a plan to tackle drought situation in Marathwada and Vidarbha, which includes creation of a "guaranteed irrigation" plan over the next two to three years.

An additional plan to have better water management system in Western Maharashtra was presented to the Centre, he said, adding the state has demanded Rs 7500 for these two projects.

"We have been allowed to send a supplementary proposal for relief now. We also did a presentation on what pre-monsoon work that could be done in the coming six-weeks. This includes de-silting work at several places, improvement of structures," Fadnavis said, adding that a long term plan to combat with drought was also presented to the PM.

"It is for the first time that the Centre sanctioned highest ever relief to the state. We has initially asked for Rs 4500 crore, but the Centre sanctioned over Rs 3000 crore, the highest ever in the state's history. Of this, Rs 2500 crore has already been disbursed."

"CM @Dev_Fadnavis apprised me about the Jal Yukt Shivar Abhiyan & State Govt's efforts to complete irrigation projects across the state," the Prime Minister said in another tweet.

"GoI fully supports Maharashtra Govt's Climate Resilient Agriculture Modernisation Project for a WB loan. The project is worth $600 million," he added.

At the meeting, Modi pressed for increasing water use efficiency through drip and sprinkler, stating that drip irrigation in sugarcane increases the quality of sugar.

Fadnavis said the state government is working on a plan to ensure that 100 percent of the sugarcane growing area in Maharashtra comes under drip irrigation in three years.

Modi stressed the need to adopt a judicious mix of traditional and modern water conservation and storage mechanisms and added that a lot can be learnt from the water management practices and measures adopted by Chhatrapati Shivaji.

To deal with drought, Fadnavis said 26 projects have been unidentified under the Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchan Yojana (PMKSY) with a target of bringing eight lakh hectares (ha) under irrigation. Of these, two lakh ha have already been brought under irrigation.

Claiming that Maharashtra ranks number one in terms of having the largest number of farmers covered under crop insurance scheme, he said state government has also sought increase in credit limit for the agriculture community to Rs 15,000 crore.

"2012 was also a drought year. There are many farmers who could not pay back their loans and since then are out of the credit system. We intend to bring them back into the credit system. Of 1,36,000 farmers with bank accounts, only 58,000 are eligible for getting loans. So the credit system needs to be improved," he said.

With people migrating to cities from drought-affected shelters, Fadnavis said local bodies like the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) have also been asked to identify these people and have night-shelters.

"The work under the MNERGA has been increased five to six times in the state," he said.

The chief minister said the state is working to rejuvenate the water-bodies under the Jal-Yukt Shivar scheme for water conservation and storage.

He said the state has set a target of 51,500 farm ponds for Financial Year 2016-17, which may be scaled up further, in view of the enthusiastic response of farmers.

Updated Date: May 07, 2016 20:24 PM

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