The Maharashtra government on Wednesday declared drought in 151 talukas across 26 districts, reported The Indian Express. Of these talukas, 112 are facing “severe drought” and 39 “medium drought”.
Eight of the 26 districts are in Vidarbha region, another eight in Marathwada, five in north Maharashtra, four in western Maharashtra and one in the Konkan region. On October 24, the state government had declared that 182 talukas out of a total of 355 were drought-prone.
In the talukas where “severe drought” has been declared, more than 60% of crops have been damaged, while more than 33.5% crops have been damaged in talukas facing “moderate drought”, reported Hindustan Times.
“The drought has been declared after ground verification and on the basis of indicators like rainfall deficit, reservoir storage, groundwater index and soil moisture,” an unidentified official of the Revenue Department said, according to India Today.
The state government will begin relief measures for farmers, such as waiving farm loans, granting exemptions in land revenue, a 33.5% concession on electricity bills of agriculture pumps, waiving exam fees of students in schools and colleges, and deploying water tankers for the next six months.
The announcement came on a day the Devendra Fadnavis-led Bharatiya Janata Party government in the state completed four years in office. “It is a formidable challenge as we are heading for a severe drought in Maharashtra,” The Indian Express quoted the chief minister as saying. “Poor rain coupled with a long dry spell leading to crop losses adversely impacted 151 talukas in the state.”
Former Chief Minister Ashok Chavan of the Congress criticised the exclusion of some talukas from the list. “20,000 villages in 201 talukas are drought-hit,” he wrote on Twitter. “But drought has been declared only in 151 talukas. When will drought be declared in the remaining 50 talukas?”