Pawar assures Central aid to Maha govt to tackle drought

Sharad Pawar assured to consider its demands in this regard in the EGoM meeting scheduled next week.

Updated: Aug 01, 2012, 23:20 PM IST

Mumbai: While asking the Maharashtra Government to rework its memorandum seeking Central funds for drought relief, Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar on Wednesday assured to consider its demands in this regard in the EGoM meeting scheduled next week.

Pawar also sought separate proposals for relaxation of guidelines for Central funds to complete pending irrigation projects in final stages and those under Accelerated Irrigation Benefit Programme (AIBP).

Pawar, who heads the Empowered Group of Ministers (EGoM) on drought, held discussions with Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan and his senior cabinet colleagues to discuss immediate measures to mitigate drought and long-term programmes.

This was the first meeting of Pawar and Chavan after the recent week-long NCP-Congress stand-off, in which, NCP chief had stayed away from the official work.

EGoM member Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh was also present. The EGoM team will travel to Karnataka, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Punjab and Haryana which have received less rain.

Chavan said 228 talukas have received insufficient rains so far out of which it is less than 50 per cent in 65 talukas.

"We sought Rs 2,857 crore package, out of which, Rs 1,000 crore was for drip irrigation and Rs 580 crore for construction of cement check dams. However, we will rework the proposal," Chavan added.

He said his government`s strategy to mitigate drought will be two-fold. "Immediate relief for drought-affected areas this year and improving the water table by next year. Hence, we are focussing on water conservation, so that not a drop of rain water goes waste," he said.

Chavan said kharif crop has been badly affected and
added that the government will support farmers for re-sowing in the form subsidy on seeds.

"Our focus will be to save rabbi crops," he added.
Chief Minister said rains have been delayed by 50 days and there is still three to four months of monsoon season left.

Jairam Ramesh, who also holds the water supply and sanitation portfolio, said his department has provided Rs 200 crore to improve drinking water schemes in rural areas yesterday and today it has been decided to sanction another Rs 167 crore.

"Hence, as against the government`s demand for Rs 206 crore, we have provided Rs 367 crore. Besides this, I have assured that the demand for additional 50 days of work on MNREGA will be provided in notified drought-affected areas," he said.

Similarly, the demand for revision of labour budget of Rs 1,536 crore by 25 to 30 per cent in the drought affected areas will be considered, he added.
Ramesh said he has assured Rs 500 crore for integrated watershed programme and another Rs 500 crore for MNREGA works.

Chavan described the meeting as comprehensive and detailed. "We sought increase in central aid, funds for existing schemes and starting of new schemes as well as waiver of norms. The two union ministers gave us a sympathetic hearing and promised to consider our demands. The revised memorandum for drought relief will be submitted shortly," he added.

Chavan also informed that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will visit Mumbai later this month. "Details of the programme will be announced by the PMO," he added.