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Maharashtra Government Declares Drought in 40 Talukas for 2023: Concessions and Challenges Ahead

Severe and Moderate Drought Designations in 15 Districts as Maharashtra Braces for Dry Year

November 03, 2023: The Maharashtra government has declared a drought in the state for the year 2023, impacting 40 talukas. This decision, made on October 1, 2023, categorizes 24 talukas in 15 districts as experiencing severe drought, while 16 talukas face moderate drought.

The government’s declaration takes into account various factors, including rainfall deficit, groundwater scarcity, vegetation health, soil moisture, sowing areas, and crop conditions from June to September. As a result, 24 talukas in 15 districts have been classified as severely affected, and 16 talukas are experiencing moderate drought.

To address the challenges posed by this drought, the government has introduced several concessions in these 40 talukas. These measures include:

  1. Exemption from land revenue.
  2. Restructuring of crop loans.
  3. Suspension of loan recoveries related to agriculture.
  4. A 33.5% discount on electricity bills for agricultural pumps.
  5. Waiver of examination fees for school and college students.
  6. Relaxation of work requirements under the Employment Guarantee Scheme.
  7. Provision of drinking water through tankers.
  8. Ensuring the power supply to farm pumps remains uninterrupted.

Maharashtra has received significantly less rainfall this year, with a deficit of 89% compared to the average. Last year, during the same period in August 2022, the state received 122.8% of the average rainfall. As of August 2023, 15 districts have received only 50 to 75 percent of the average rainfall, 13 districts have received 75 to 100 percent, and six districts have received more than 100 percent.

Between July 25 and August 17, there were 21 consecutive rainless days in 41 revenue circles across the state, particularly in Nashik, Jalgaon, Ahmednagar, Pune, Satara, Aurangabad, Jalna, Buldhana, Akola, and Amravati.

These conditions indicate a high likelihood of a drought crisis in Maharashtra this year, prompting government intervention.

The expenses associated with the announced concessions will be covered by the relevant administrative department, with funds provided by the state’s finance department, headed by Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar.

Key points from the government’s decision, released on October 31, include:

  • Assistance to farmers for crop damage based on Kharif season 2023 records.
  • Aid for dry land crop losses exceeding 33% during the Kharif season.
  • Documentation of perennial fruit and horticultural crop damage exceeding 33% on the 7/12 slip of the affected farmers.
  • Resolution of objections regarding crop entries on the land following Maharashtra Land Revenue Code provisions.
  • Implementation of the mid-day meal scheme in schools during major holidays in drought-prone talukas.

Drought declarations are made based on specific criteria, including factors like cultivated area, rainfall, and drought impacts. Such declarations are considered when there is an extended break in rainfall during the rainy season, if total rainfall falls below specified thresholds, and if the area sown is significantly less than the total cultivated area. The condition of fodder, surface and groundwater levels are also assessed.

Marathwada has faced recurring droughts over the past two decades, with declining groundwater levels being a major concern. The region has become highly dependent on borewells for its economy.

After declaring a drought, the government is tasked with providing various support measures to affected citizens, including farmers. These measures encompass land revenue exemptions, loan restructuring, electricity bill discounts, and relief for students’ examination fees. Additionally, provisions are made for relaxed work criteria under employment guarantee schemes and the supply of drinking water through tankers. In drought-affected villages, the electricity connection for agricultural pumps must not be disconnected.

Overall, declaring a drought places an additional burden on the government’s finances and responsibilities. Governments tend to be cautious in making such declarations to avoid the associated financial and societal commitments.


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