MUMBAI: As some 24,000 villages in Maharashtra are reeling from acute water and fodder shortage, the state government has come up with a ‘novel’ idea to overcome the crisis.
It has imposed a ban on bringing cattle from neighbouring Gujarat so that they will not ‘snatch’ a share of the state’s already diminishing fodder stock.
The state government has already imposed a ban on selling fodder outside the state and hopes that the new restriction will give some relief to the local farmers.
“Every year, several lakh cattle from Kathiawad in Gujarat are brought to Maharashtra in search of fodder. They stay in the state for almost four months, till the monsoon arrives. This year, we are facing shortage of fodder even for our own cattle. That is why we have banned cattle from Gujarat,” Maharashtra Agriculture Minister Eknath Khadse said.
Khadse, who is also the in-charge of the Relief and Rehabilitation Department, said that the number of villages facing a drought-like situation had gone up to 24,000 from 18,000 in the last two months.
“We have empowered the Tehsildars to take a call on the supply of water tankers in the affected areas. The unseasonal rains have lessened our worries over the availability of drinking water in some parts of the state. However, fodder shortage continues to be a big concern for us,” he said.
The state government has demanded a relief package of ‘14,000 crore from the Centre to tackle the situation. However, the Union Government has not yet approved the proposal citing some ‘technical faults’ in the plea for assistance.
“We have rectified the faults and have resent the proposal. Now we are hopeful that the financial assistance will reach us soon,” Khadse said.
According to a senior official, the state has asked for Central aid to overcome drought as well as hailstorm at the same time.
“The Centre wondered as to how the crops could have been destroyed by the hailstorm if the crops could not grow because of water shortage. We are preparing a proper answer to it,” he said.
Meanwhile, Congress legislator Anant Gadgil said the government was interested only in cosmetic measures and it shied away from addressing the real issues.