Drought at home, CM tours abroad to woo industry

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Old 14-Sep-2015
Post Drought at home, CM tours abroad to woo industry

If Maharashtra is suffering from its worst drought in living memory, it does not show on Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis.
A leader with a decidedly urban background, Fadnavis has chosen to give more priority to industry. In only nine months after taking over as Chief Minister, Fadnavis is on his sixth visit abroad – this time to Japan.
The social media-savvy BJP leader promptly tweets about his meetings with sundry leaders and industrialists. Information on business agreements signed by members of his team is promptly disseminated to the media back home.
Other than token visits at events related to drought relief, Fadnavis is contented to let rival and fellow BJP leader Eknath Khadse handle the situation to the best of his abilities. The apathy of the top leadership is telling on the rollout of drought-relief measures in the worst-affected areas of the state.
“The state government is yet to officially declare Maharashtra as drought-hit which would allow implementation of relief measures,” says a bureaucrat. Officials said a decision on declaring at least parts of Maharashtra as drought-hit would be taken after Fadnavis returns from his Japan tour.
According to the government’s own data, the water available in the state’s reservoirs is just 49 per cent of capacity as against 72 per cent in the same period last year. Of the 355 talukas across the state, 125 have received less than 50 per cent rainfall, while 146 between 50 and 75 per cent rainfall.
Farmers who began sowing the monsoon crop after good rains in June are facing huge losses. More than 600 farmers have committed suicide with 100 people taking their lives in August alone in the worst-hit Marathwada region. The grim scenario has still not moved the state government to conserve water.
Another instance of the state’s misplaced priorities is the diversion of water from the Jaikwadi dam. The water which would easily suffice for the drinking water needs of people and cattle in Marathwada’s
Aurangabad district is diverted for manufacturing beer. Needless to say, most of the distilleries are owned by politicians from across the political spectrum, including the BJP.

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