DESCRIBING the drought situation in Marathwada as extremely critical, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Friday said his government was sparing no effort in meeting the challenge even as he cited his initiative to bring along his entire cabinet to the drought-hit region to take stock of the situation first hand and initiate corrective measures.
Fadnavis’ visit, however, failed to enthuse the farmers’ community, which is battling acute water shortage, crop failure and suicides. Fadnavis, who himself toured a few villages and interacted with farmers, told The Indian Express that the government has gone all out to initiate a slew of measures to alleviate the miseries of the villagers and farmers in eight districts of Marathwada. “Yes, the situation is extremely critical, but the steps we have initiated will surely help in easing the sufferings of people in this region,” he said.
He said never in the past has an entire cabinet landed in a region facing a most difficult time. “All my cabinet colleagues are in Marathwada. I don’t remember that it has ever happened in the past that an entire cabinet was directed to tour drought-affected talukas and take stock of the situation. The ministers have been told to tour all talukas and find out whether the steps taken and government schemes being implemented were reaching the farmers and whether the villagers had any grievances to make,” he said.
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When specifically asked as to what he found out after interacting with farmers, Fadnavis said, “When I spoke to farmers and villagers, they seemed satisfied with schemes being implemented by the government. Our Food Security plan offering wheat and rice is reaching the maximum number of farmers. Maharashtra was the first state in the country to implement the plan and it is doing just fine,” he said.
However, in Lambota village where the CM inaugurated the government’s much-publicised water conservation scheme, the villagers did not seem enthused. “The chief minister came to inaugurate the scheme, delivered a speech and left. When we placed our grievances before him, he made no promise except saying ok. He folded his hands and left quickly. He did not even have the time to tour our village.
Whoever said he toured the village is lying,” said M Mugale, a farmer from Lambota village.
Several farmers this correspondent spoke to had similar grievances against the CM. “All our crop has been destroyed. The interest on loan we took is piling up, we want the government to give us a loan waiver. But the CM had no time to listen to our plight,” said another farmer Chakradhar Deshmukh.
At a meeting in Nilanga village, where the CM addressed officials, ministers and local politicians, Fadnavis said the government was banking heavily on Jalyukt Shivar Yojana as it will ensure that every farmer in a village gets enough water to cultivate crop and villagers get sufficient stock of water. “The plan will change the entire scenario of drought-affected region,” he said.
Meanwhile, a farmer Baban Kamble stumped the chief minister shouting slogans, “Not daru, we want water…” Kamble, a villager from Devni village of Latur district, alleged district officials had sanctioned a country liquor shop in Vidyanagar area where schools and colleges are located.
“When we are fighting for water, they are sanctioning liquor shops,” he said while submitting a memorandum to the CM who did not respond to his agitated sloganeering. The district officials too simply looked on.