Chavan asks PM for national fund for drought relief
New Delhi: Creation of a drought mitigation fund was today proposed by Maharashtra which is battling one of the severest droughts in recent years.
Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan said the idea was suggested by the state during a meeting he had with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar and Deputy Chairman of Planning Commission Montek Singh Ahluwalia were also present at the meeting.
Chavan said the Planning Commission would hold talks with state government officials in the next few days.
The meeting with the Prime Minister came a day after Chavan and several of his cabinet colleagues met the Empowered Group of Ministers on drought chaired by Pawar.
The state government has sought central assistance to the tune of Rs 3,572 crore for tackling the drought in 123 talukas.
Chavan said a fund like the National Drought Mitigation Fund would help states like Maharashtra to tackle the drought situation more effectively.
He said the state government would also ask other states to press the Centre to create the fund.
The state government has also sought Rs 2,270 crore
for 105 small irrigation projects in drought-prone Vidarbha region and other surrounding areas.
Timely release of funds would ensure these projects would be operational by next year, officials said.
Chavan also met Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister S Jaipal Reddy and requested him to make available gas for the Dabhol Power project.
He said that due to inadequate availability of gas, the power station was generating only 600 MW electricity as against the installed capacity of 2,100 MW.
Stressing on urgency to supply gas, the Chief Minister said two hydel power projects had to be shut down due to deficient monsoon.
Chavan also dismissed criticism over the transfer of Mumbai Police Commissioner Arup Patnaik in the aftermath of the August 11 violence at Azad Maidan in Mumbai.
He said the decision to transfer Patnaik was taken earlier and was only being implemented now.