Drought to be no.1 issue in Maharashtra

Drought to be no.1 issue in Maharashtra

With the drought having affected 50% of the geographical area in Maharashtra, agrarian distress has emerged as the no. 1 issue for the Lok Sabha elections.

For both the BJP-Shiv Sena alliance and the Congress-NCP alliance, addressing this crisis is a major issue.

According to the Interim Budget Estimates for 2019-20, the government has declared a drought in 151 tehsils, which is affecting 85.76 lakh hectares.

The government also declared 268 revenue circles and 5,449 villages, where the crop estimate is below 50 paise, as drought-hit.

The Marathwada, Vidarbha and North Maharashtra regions are the worst-hit.

On the day BJP president Amit Shah, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray had inked a seat-sharing formula for both Lok Sabha and Assembly polls, ministers, MPs and MLAs had been asked to tour the drought-affected regions.

In fact, just a couple of days later, the Congress-NCP launched its joint election campaign from Nanded, addressed by NCP supremo Sharad Pawar and Maharashtra Congress chief Ashok Chavan.

"While voting, the common man is going to look at the real development on the ground, farmers' distress and drought, among other things in the state. The agrarian distress is deep," said farmers' leader Kishor Tiwari, the chairperson of the government's Vasantrao Naik Sheti Swavlamban Mission.

Saying the situation in the farm sector is dire, Tiwari told DH that "there are issues of crop loss, drinking water and fodder."

The state government has distributed Rs 2,909 crore to the drought-affected people, while Rs 1,507 crore was credited in the bank accounts of 42 lakh farmers till February 23.

Besides, Rs 2,000 crore was sanctioned from the contingency fund to make provisions.

The Centre has also sanctioned Rs 4,714 crore to compensate the loss to farmers and provide drinking water and fodder.

During the last two weeks, the Congress-NCP front and other parties like the Bharipa Bahujan Mahasangh and Maharashtra Navnirman Sena have lashed out at the Fadnavis-government for not being able to tackle the drought situation.

Fadnavis's pet project, the Jalyukt Shivar Abhiyan, that set a target of making 25,000 villages drought-free between 2015 and 2020, had also come under the fire of the Opposition parties.

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