The state government will raise loans to help farmers tackle the financial burden caused by drought, said Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Tuesday, during the first leg of his tour of drought affected districts in Marathwada and Western Maharashtra.
The state government, which had set aside Rs 7,000 crore for drought relief in the state is likely to raise Rs 10,000 crore to tackle the severe drought situation in Marathwada, parts of Ahmednagar and Solapur, Sangli and Satara in Western Maharashtra.
He acknowledged the financial implications of a complete loan waiver for which the government will need Rs 28,000 crore. Although Fadnavis did not make any commitments on the loan waiver, he said, “At the moment, we are rolling out contingency plans. Drinking water and animal fodder is our priority. Finances are being worked out without any constraints.”
Assuring that financial constraints will not come in the way of cattle camps, fodder and drinking water in 25,000 villages affected by drought, he said, “If necessary, my government will raise loans to provide relief to farmers.”
Apart from these, 11,000 metric tonnes of food grains have been released for 14 drought-hit districts. So far, the government has disbursed 4.5 lakh metric tonnes.
Maharashtra is reeling under a Rs 3.5 lakh crore debt burden. Monsoon failure has forced the state government to raise additional funds to meet expenditure on cattle camps and drinking water supply through trains and tankers.
Fadnavis began his tour with Latur, which is facing a severe water shortage. In Latur city, drinking water arrives once in 20 days for barely two to four hours. The chief minister went to remote villages and interacted with farmers. At Tupdi village, where a cattle camp has been opened, he said, “We acquired fodder from the neighbourhood and other states.”
Fadnavis said, “There would be no shortage of water through tankers. We are getting water through trains wherever possible.”
It is estimated that if cattle camps in drought districts continue for another two months, the budget will reach Rs 2,000 crore. Water tankers in affected districts, including Latur, Beed and Osmanabad, have doubled, crossing 2,000.
The chief minister said the Food Security Act will ensure that every farmer gets food. Fadnavis, who travelled to Osmanabad, will cover Beed, Parbhani, Jalna and Nanded in the next two days.