Two days after writing to the Election Commission to relax the model code of conduct in order to fast track drought relief measures, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Thursday directed all ministers to tour their respective districts to provide relief and announced that Rs 4,412-crore funds have been disbursed to 68 lakh farmers so far.
Fadnavis issued the directive while chairing a Cabinet meeting to discuss short and long-term measures for drought mitigation. The Cabinet also discussed and adopted a resolution condemning the Naxal attack against 15 police personnel and a private vehicle driver at Gadchiroli.
Briefing the media after the meeting, the chief minister said, “The India Meteorological Department’s prediction of a possibly delayed monsoon was a cause for concern. Even if the monsoon is delayed by a week or fortnight, it would call for greater preparations to meet all the challenges, especially sustained supply of drinking water and cattle fodder.”
Fadnavis also reiterated his hope that the CEC would relax its norms for the model code of conduct. “Already Rs 4,412 crore have been disbursed for crop loss to 68 lakh farmers out of a total 82 lakh. Apart from this, Rs 3,200 crore under the Prime Minister Crop Insurance would also be disbursed to eligible farmers shortly,” he said.
The Cabinet issued a directive for district collectors to factor in the increase in population as per 2018 data rather than the 2011 census, and asked them to sanction more water tankers to tackle scarcity in rural parts of the state.
On relief measures for cattle, the chief minister said, “Rs 90 has been sanctioned per day for big animals, and Rs 45 per day for smaller animals. It is slightly higher than the National Disaster Relief Fund (NDRF) guidelines.”
Since fodder cultivation was carried out on 58 lakh hectares of land, in anticipation of a summer crisis, the chief minister said there was no shortage on that front.
On low water levels in dams across Maharashtra, Fadnavis said, “At Jaikwadi, live water stock is over. The water is being drawn from dead level. But there is still plenty of water.”
In drought-prone districts, people are being enrolled under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA). At the moment, 2.75 to 3 lakh people are enrolled under the scheme.
“Maharashtra was also among the states adversely impacted by the heat wave. But following low-pressure build-up in the Bay of Bengal, temperatures will become moderate. This would also help in bringing down the demand for water tankers gradually.”