In a very unique move Prime Minister Narendra Modi is to meet Chief Ministers of 11 different Indian states separately to help states governments provide relief to drought hit areas in their states. In the first round PM Modi met chief ministers of Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra and Karnataka on the 7th of May.
The Prime Minister chaired each high level meeting on the drought and water scarcity situation. The Chief Minister of respective states were present in the meeting along with senior officials from the state. Senior officials from the Government of India were also present. The meetings ended with the state and the centre agreeing to work together to resolve the issue.
Uttar Pradesh drought situation:
Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav apprised PM Modi of efforts undertaken for mitigation of problems faced by people because of drought conditions. These include provision of drinking water, food to the needy in Bundelkhand, employment, water and fodder for cattle, and efforts for long and medium term solutions.
He further said that the State has undertaken preparatory steps to implement the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana in right earnest. The State shared the action plan for revival and restoration of 78,000 water-bodies including tanks, ponds, and farm ponds; one lakh new water-bodies and recharge structures. This will be achieved by utilising funds available in schemes such as MNREGA and Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana.
Huge amount of funds have been released for the highly populated state so that it can meet water demands of the people. An amount of Rs. 934.32 crore has been released to the State under the National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF), after adjustments of the State balances. This is in addition to Rs. 506.25 crore released as central share of State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF) for 2015-16 to the State. A further amount of Rs. 265.87 crore has been released as first instalment of SDRF for 2016-17.
UP government submitted a fresh memorandum for assistance for the Rabi 2015-16 season. The Prime Minister directed that the process be completed, and assistance be provided without delay.
The NITI Aayog also outlined the steps taken already for the release of funds under the Bundelkhand package.
Maharashtra drought situation:
Chief Minister of Maharashtra, Devendra Fadnavis said that the State Government is working on a plan to ensure that 100 per cent of the sugarcane growing area in Maharashtra comes under drip irrigation in three years.
The Chief Minister informed the Prime Minister that the State is focusing on Climate Resilient Agriculture; and has proposed a Climate Resistant Agriculture Modernization Project for a World Bank loan, to ensure water security at the farm level. He thanked the Government of India for expeditiously recommending this project to the World Bank.
The Chief Minister apprised the Prime Minister about the progress of the Jal Yukt Shivar Abhiyan for water conservation and storage. He said the State has set a target of 51,500 farm ponds for Financial Year 2016-17, which may be scaled up further, in view of the enthusiastic response of farmers.
The Chief Minister also explained the State's efforts to complete critical irrigation projects in the Marathwada and Vidarbha regions in a time-bound manner. He also spoke of the work done to bring more farmers under the umbrella of institutional credit.
The Chief Minister also informed about the efforts towards "doubling farm incomes and drought-free Maharashtra."
Karnataka drought situation:
The Chief Minister of Karnataka Siddaramaiah thanked the Government of India for the assistance of Rs. 1,540.20 crore against the Kharif memorandum, and said that this has been fully utilised to assist the farmers.
He said that this amount was transferred to farmers through Real-Time Gross Settlement (RTGS). He further said that Rs. 723.23 crore had recently been approved for the Rabi memorandum, which should be released expeditiously.
It was informed that this was in addition to the Rs. 207 crore released as central share of SDRF for 2015-16. Further, Rs. 108.75 crore has already been released as first instalment of SDRF for 2016-17.
It was further informed that Rs 603 crore would be made available with Karnataka during 2016-17 for water conservation and drought proofing under various schemes of Government of India. Similarly, Rs 830 crore would be available under various agricultural schemes.
The Chief Minister described the problems being faced by people owing to the severe drought. He said that major rivers and reservoirs in the State are facing acute water shortage. He explained the various measures undertaken by the State Government, including desilting, construction of farm ponds, steps towards drip irrigation, and ensuring adequate drinking water supply.
The Chief Minister apprised the Prime Minister about the steps taken by Karnataka, for wastewater management. Appreciating these efforts, the Prime Minister emphasized that this should be taken up in a big way in the towns and cities.
Mr. Siddaramaiah apprised the Prime Minister about the preparatory steps taken towards implementation of the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana. The State Government also made some suggestions regarding crop insurance.
Suggestions from PM:
- Focus on medium and long term solutions for drought-proofing.
- Use technologies like remote sensing and satellite imaging for planning of water conservation and recharge structures.
- Change cropping patterns based on scientific advice, use drip and sprinkler irrigation.
- Increase water use efficiency, community participation, especially women, for better water management.
- Use treated urban wastewater for farming in the adjoining areas.
- Monitor delivery of water through tankers in the affected areas, using technology such as GPS.
- Use the period before the upcoming monsoon for water conservation and recharge efforts. This includes efforts at desilting, recharging of rivers, check dams and other water storage mechanisms.
- Use modern solid and liquid waste management practices in urban areas, which could yield enhanced water and organic fertiliser availability in adjoining rural areas.
- The Prime Minister said that the time has come when there should be healthy competition among States to speak of efforts in water conservation and management, the way efforts to increase GSDP and investment are spoken about. The Prime Minister also asked NITI Aayog to develop an index to measure water conservation and management.