Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Friday emphasised on scaling up the flagship project — Jalyukta Shivar Abhiyan — for which the government is planning to make higher budgetary allocations in 2016-17.
Under the scheme, instead of conventional irrigation projects, the government is emphasising on recharge of wells, farm ponds, and revival of rivers, along with old structures, expected to be more cost effective and result-oriented. The state government has directed district collectors across drought-prone areas to complete the ongoing work in the next four months to enable villages to tap monsoon rains in June-July. Some modification in “jalyukta shivar” is also being worked out to facilitate greater coordination between the administration and the public.
Fadnavis said, “The poor villagers reeling in drought have displayed a great sense of participation and come forward with financial contribution thus setting great examples of selfless service and sacrifice. The total amount collected from public participation for the jalyukta shivar abhiyan is more than Rs 350 crore.”
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On Friday, Fadnavis hopped villages in Nilanga taluka in Latur district to interact with villagers on drought and measures taken by the government to address problems. At Lambota village (Nilanga), he held meetings with the locals to discuss their problems and provide solutions. While acknowledging their anguish and sufferings caused by the drought for the fourth consecutive year, Fadnavis said, “Whether it is in term of policy or funds the government has taken all short- and long-term measures. Whether it is fodder camps or supply of water through tankers to villages, it would continue till such time there is scarcity of water.”
The chief minister disclosed that government has made provisions for Rs 18,000 crore through various schemes for drought mitigation in less than two years, while, in the last 15 years, the total amount spent on drought mitigation was Rs 8,000 crore. It indicated that Congress-NCP government had made a total allocation of Rs 8,000 crore in 15 years.
He discussed policy initiatives of the government to mitigate the problems. The decision to sanction farm ponds to farmers on demand has met with huge response, he said, adding, “Barely three days after the cabinet gave the approval, there were 24,000 farmers who came forward for farm ponds. The state government has decided to provide subsidy of upto Rs 50,000 for every farm pond.”
To extend relief for crop losses, government has decided to directly deposit money in farmers’ bank accounts even if they have not applied for insurance. The administration, after reviewing the crop loss, would provide relief under insurance scheme to all those deserving financial aid.
While reckoning concerns across sections for fodder camps, the government has taken the decision to continue them till onset of monsoon. The chief minister said, “Unlike in the past, the state government had begun fodder camps from October 2015, which is unprecedented. However, it was allowed taking into consideration the gravity of drought in some districts of Marathwada, part of Vidarbha and North and West Maharashtra.”
He listed several measures to tackle drought, including giving work to five lakh people through MNEREGA and fee waiver of
Rs 40 crore to help approximately ten lakh students. To create permanent assets using MNREGA scheme, the government has given the nod for incorporating farm ponds which would help every village reeling under drought. The direct subsidy to farm ponds coupled with sanction of MNEREGA would speed up the project. The farm ponds are expected to serve both farmers and villages. The farm ponds would help in water percolation and raise the underground water table. In districts like Latur, Beed, Parbhani, Osmanabad, the water table has sunk below 700 to 800 feet.
Fadnavis has been explaining to villagers that the drought situation has become grave due to the policy mistakes made in the past. While he did not name the opposition parties, he emphasised how major course correction had become inevitable and how the results will be seen in the next couple of years. While reiterating his government’s commitment to make Maharashtra drought free, he said the focus is on creating water conservation projects in all 25,000 villages out of 40,000 villages by 2019. Citing the example of first year where 1.20 lakh works have been done, he said a good monsoon will prove to be a blessing for farmers to sustain for the next two years. He, however, said, “Irrespective of monsoons, the government will rise to meet the challenges.”
Earlier, he reviewed the rejuvenation work of Lambota river in Nilanga taluka. The canal deepening and recharge works in villages were also assessed.