Drought looms; 4,000 MW power shortage in the state: Deshmukh

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Mumbai, Jul 15 (UNI) Maharashtra Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh today admitted that due to scanty rainfall, drought is looming over the state.

Talking to reporters on the eve of Monsoon Session here, Mr Deshmukh said the Metereology department had also said there would not be much rainfall in the state, and this has already affected kharif crops and may affect rabi if there would be no rains.

''The officers have been instructed to preserve dam water for drinking, not divert it to agriculture and also arrange fodder,'' he said, adding that the Marketing Federation has been asked not to sell the cotton seed.

He also admitted that due to scanty rainfall, the power shortage has reached at 4,000 Mega Watt. Considering this, the period of load shedding has been increased from nearly four to eight hours.

Criticising the Opposition members for boycotting customary tea party, Mr Deshmukh said the Opposition seemed confused as they had attended the meeting during last session despite the same prevailing issues.

He said 10 bills including the bill on special Economic Zone (SEZ), anti-superstition and others are expected to be cleared during the session.

Talking about farmers, the Chief Minister said 37.5 lakh farmers have been benefited due to the Central Government's Loan Waiver Scheme.

He said under the scheme, the farmers have got the benefits amounting to Rs 7,768.87 crore. He also said the state government took a review of the benefits and got this figure.

The total loan waiver scheme announced by the Central Government was of over Rs 70,000 crore, which means nearly 10 per cent of the amount had been disbursed in Maharashtra, where debt-ridden farmers had committed suicides.

Mr Deshmukh said he would write a letter to the Prime Minister requesting to give some grant to the farmers who had paid their loan installments on time. He added that nearly 25 lakh farmers had not paid their dues till June 30.

UNI JM/XR SSS PY ND2056

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