Mumbai: The central government on Thursday released an aid of Rs.778 crore as drought assistance to Maharashtra from National Disaster Response Fund, an official statement said.

The decision was taken at the meeting of a high-level committee for central assistance to states affected by natural calamity, chaired by union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar, in New Delhi.

Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde, Finance Minister P.Chidambaram, Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia are the other members of the committee.

According to the statement, the assistance includes Rs.563 crore for agriculture, Rs.91 crore for horticulture assistance, Rs.73 crore for animal husbandry and over Rs.50 crore for water supply.

Maharashtra experienced a sequential drought phenomenon over the past 24 months impacting kharif 2011, rabi 2011-12 and kharif 2012 crops. The state initially declared drought in 122 taluks in 25 districts, but subsequently revised it to 125 talukas in 16 districts.

It had submitted a memorandum seeking financial assistance from the NDRF. The state government had sought a central assistance of Rs.5,000 crore, including Rs.2,270 crore for relief measures.

A team of central government officials led by Joint Secretary R.B. Sinha visited the state during November 2012 for assessing drought situation during kharif 2012. The team submitted its recommendation to the Inter-Ministerial Group (IMG) constituted under the chairmanship of agriculture secretary.

In a meeting, the IMG held its meeting Dec 21, 2012 and recommended assistance.However, Leader of Opposition in Maharashtra Legislative Council, Vinod Tawade said the funding is not enough.


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