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Maha govt to declare drought in over 29,000 villages, HC told

Water crisis in Shahapur

Mumbai : In the wake of acute water shortage in various parts of Maharashtra, the state government has informed the Bombay High Court that it would declare drought in over 29,000 villages in the state and all relief prescribed in the Drought Manual, 2009 would be provided.

The government in its reply to a batch of PILs on water shortage issue, has told the court that it would issue a corrigendum and clarify that wherever reference is made to a ‘drought-like situation’ and ‘drought-affected areas’, the same should be read as ‘drought’.

The affidavit said last week the government was strictly implementing various schemes and taking various measures to mitigate the water scarcity in drought-hit areas and more particularly in Marathwada and Vidharbha regions.

The court also took note of the contention of Acting Advocate General Rohit Deoit that it would not be possible for the government to supply drinking water daily to all districts but it would be supplied on a regular basis.

Deo assured the court that potable water would be supplied to all districts affected by drought regularly till the onset of the monsoon.

The government had earlier told the high court, which is hearing the PILs, that it had declared ‘drought-like situation’ in over 29,000 villages in Maharashtra.

One of the petitioners, Sanjay Lakhe Patil had alleged last week that the government has failed to implement the Drought Manual of 2009 as well as the Drought Management Plan, 2005.

He had submitted that the state government has deliberately not declared drought in Maharashtra or in the actually affected areas.

“This was done in order to ensure that additional relie which is normally given to villages which are declared as drought-hit villages is not given and these villages have been avoided,” Patil had argued.

After perusing the affidavit, the court had noted, “Prima facie we are satisfied that the government has given a serious thought and has considered this issue in detail and is taking immediate steps for the purpose of ensuring that in the month of May and part of June this year all adequate measures as mentioned in the Drought Manual are being undertaken.”

The court posted the petitions for hearing on May 24 to ensure that the government is implementing the provisions under the manual.

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