Drought relief measures taken by the state has taken a major toll on the government’s budget expenditure, with Rs 2,150 crore having been spent in the current financial year. Notably, this year, the state government procured a record 15 crore kg of fodder to be distributed for livestock in regions affected by drought or scarcity in the state.
This year, Gujarat is facing a severe water crisis and 96 talukas of 17 districts in the state have been declared either drought affected or scarcity affected. Sources said that 51 talukas declared drought affected have been provided relief in terms of agriculture crop input subsidy, financial assistance for running cattle camps, gau shalas (cow shelters) and panjrapols (homes for abandoned animals), fodder for livestock and so on, at a cost of Rs 950 crore. A part of this cost is being shared by the Central government.
However, the state government had also declared 45 talukas as scarcity affected, which does not fall under the definition of drought, due to which the Centre does not provide any financial assistance. Relief measures amounting to Rs 650 crore have been provided in these talukas, with the state government bearing the entire cost.
Around Rs 350 crore has been disbursed as financial assistance for the maintenance of livestock in affected regions at cattle camps and cow shelters.
“This year, there has been record procurement of fodder for distribution among drought or scarcity affected regions at concesstional rates,” a source said. “Around 15 crore kg fodder was procured and around 13 crore kg fodder already distributed. By July end, the rest of the fodder is also likely to be distributed. The state government spent Rs 150 crore to procure the fodder.”
Apart from this, the Gujarat Water Supply and Sewerage Board has also been providing drinking water in tankers to water-starved areas. “The board has been given around Rs 30 crore for this purpose and Rs 20 crore more is likely to be granted to facilitate relief in affected regions,” a source said.
A senior officer said that the state government had sometime back sent a memorandum to the Central government seeking financial aid of estimated Rs 3,300 crore to deal with the drought situation. However they are yet to receive a response.