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Dealing with Drought in Advance; CM Fadnavis Orders to Submit Report by May 21

On Sunday, Chief minister Devendra Fadnavis directed the guardian secretary of each district to visit drought-affected areas and submit their reports by May 21 in order to control or keep check on the worsening drought situation in summer.

Dr. Sangeeta Soi

On Sunday, Chief minister Devendra Fadnavis directed the guardian secretary of each district to visit drought-affected areas and submit their reports by May 21 in order to control or keep check on  the worsening  drought situation in summer.  

Meanwhile, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar on Sunday resumed his tour of drought-affected areas, visiting villages in Satara district, interacting with farmers and visiting camps where the state provides fodder and water to cattle. 

The review of the relief work has also been asked by the secretaries taken up by the state. This action is in support to the directives that have come at a time when the Opposition is trying to corner the government over its failure to provide relief to drought-affected people. 

There are reports of Pawar visiting villages in Ashti and Patoda tehsils of Beed district, considered one of the worst-affected districts in the state. 

As per the conditions in Maharashtra, the state has only 16.38% water left in the dams, whereas Marathwada, one of the worst-hit regions, has only 4.87% water left in all its reservoirs. Of its nine major reservoirs, eight, including the biggest reservoir Jayakwadi, have zero water stock. Last year, the region had 24.28% water stock covering all of its 964 dams, while the state had 28.26% water in the reservoirs. As of now, more than 4,054 villages are getting drinking water through tankers. 

According to rough estimates, more than 21,000 villages in the state are hit, as the state declared drought in 151 tehsils, 318 revenue circles and 4,518 villages. There are total 358 tehsils in the state and each revenue circle comprises 20-40 villages, while each tehsil comprises somewhere between 50 and 80 villages. 

As per the report from the senior official from the water supply and sanitation department, 5,174 water tankers have been deployed in the state to deal with the situation, to provide drinking water to the affected areas. Of them, a maximum of 2,756 tankers are providing drinking water in eight districts of Marathwada, “The number of water tankers is going to rise in the coming days,” he said. 

By the report, the state has deployed 1,054 tankers in Aurangabad district alone, the highest in the state, followed by Beed and Ahmednagar, with 830 and 771 tankers, respectively. “Fadnavis have directed all guardian secretaries to visit their respective drought-affected districts to ensure effective implementation of mitigation measures and submit a detailed report by May 21,” by a statement released by the chief minister’s office (CMO) on Sunday. 

The issue is likely to take centre stage in the state considering the Assembly elections are scheduled after five months. Pawar said, “I am visiting drought-hit villages and meeting farmers to get first-hand information. After this, I will seek CM Fadnavis’ time and inform him about the actual scenario. I will ask the CM to take necessary steps.” 

As per the statement of NCP chief, "the former union agriculture minister also took a jibe at Fadnavis over his review meetings. “I read somewhere that the chief minister is holding review meetings on phone, which anyone can do. Those in power should come on ground and visit the areas in person, only then they will learn about the actual situation,”  

An amount of ₹4,717 crore has been approved by the centre of which ₹4,248.59 crore has been released in two installments. The Congress, too, had criticised the state, saying the entire relief work was stalled in the name of election code of conduct. A delegation led by state Congress president Ashok Chavan also met Governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao on Friday requesting his intervention. 

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