Maharashtra seeks Rs.15,000 crore to tackle drought


Mumbai : Faced with a drought-like situation ahead of the assembly elections, the Maharashtra government Saturday demanded Rs.15,000 crore from the centre to tackle the calamity.

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Chief Minister Ashok Chavan said there is a severe scarcity of water for drinking and irrigation and fodder in the absence of adequate rainfall in large parts of the state.

Of the 353 sub-districts, 221 have been declared as drought-hit and scarcity-hit in the state, he said.

Earlier this month, the state government had declared that 129 blocks had received less than 50 percent of the normal rainfall.

“In order to tackle the situation arising out of this scenario, we have sought assistance of Rs.15,000 crore from the centre,” Chavan told reporters.

Chavan also said that strict action would be taken against hoarders, speculators and black-marketeers attempting to exploit the situation arising out of a deficit rainfall.

Raids and punitive actions are being carried out in different parts of the state which have yielded huge quantities of essentials like tur dal (red lentil) and sugar.

Chavan said the seized quantities would be distributed to the people through fair price shops at affordable rates within a week.

A fortnight ago, the state government also started sale of tur dal at Rs.55 per kg through fair price shops. The current market price of the pulse is Rs.90 per kilo.

A state government official said that in order to provide relief to the common man, the state will make available five essentials items at a cost of Rs.120 crore per month.

The items are wheat (Rs.7.20 per kg), rice (Rs.9.60 per kg), tur dal (Rs.55 per kg), sugar (Rs.20 per kg) and palm oil (Rs.30 per kg).

The state will make provision of Rs.200 crore for making drinking water facilities and another Rs.200 crore to provide fodder for cattle in the scarcity-hit regions, the official said.