Maha govt wants Centre to lax norms for giving drought-hit tag

Mumbai: Recently Maharashtra Today reported that the drought-proned Marathwada is staring at another spell of poor crop yield owing to erratic rainfall and alarmingly low water conserve. However many other parts of Vidarbha too are facing similar situation but they cannot be declared as drought-hit due to strict norms. Now in the latest development, the state government has now decided to ask the Centre to relax the norms to declare the particular region drought-hit.

It was earlier reported in the media that of 136 talukas in Maharashtra that have demanded they be declared drought-hit, only three from Gondia district have made the cut according to the 2016 manual that has come in recently, that too in the ‘moderate’ category. ‘Moderate’ means only the state is responsible for giving financial assistance, and the Centre does not have to step in. Following public outrage over the stringent conditions, the state’s relief and rehabilitation department has drafted a letter to be sent to the Centre which says most of the indicators in the manual are “irrelevant” and should not apply.

While the new rules say the parameter of crop sowing would be applicable only if the area under sowing is reduced by 50%, the state’s letter has said it must be relaxed. State officials said no farmer will keep his land barren. “Sowing is always done. Even in the worse of droughts experienced by the state, the area under sowing did not fall by more than 8-10%. This indicator can never been fulfilled,” they said.

The manual gives four impact indicators in all, and 13 sub-indices called trigger indicators. Depending on the number of indices that are applicable to the situation, the drought will be categorized as ‘moderate’ or ‘severe’.

When two of the four impact indicators are applicable to an area, it will be declared moderately affected, and if three are applicable, it will be placed in the ‘severe’ category.

It would be rarely that three impact indicators would be applicable, officials said. While rainfall and ground verification are not taken as key, vegetation, hydrological indices and crop situation indices are all on the list of impact indicators.