"Considering the adverse impact of recurrent droughts, the government has declared a new 'Jalyukta Shivar Abhiyan'," Rao said addressing a joint session of Maharashtra Legislature at Vidhan Bhavan, as the Budget session got underway on Monday.
This Abhiyan aims at initiating permanent measures to make the state drought-free by 2019 and to harvest rainwater within the village boundaries, thereby increasing ground water levels, he said.

"Micro-irrigation systems would be promoted for efficient use of water, thereby increasing the irrigated area. An ambitious target has been set to make 5,000 villages free of water scarcity every year," the Governor said.

Due to unseasonal rains and hailstorm in November and December last year, crops and cultivable land in some parts of the state were damaged. The government therefore decided to give special relief and concession to the affected farmers immediately and compensated for the loss of life, cattle and damaged houses, he said.
"The package is much higher than the norms of the National Disaster Response Force," he said.

A scarcity like situation has been declared in 23,811 villages of the state, where 'paisewari' (crop yield) was less than 50 paise and various relief measures have been implemented in these areas as per standing orders, which include repayment of loans taken by the farmers from money lenders, conversion of outstanding crop loan into short-term loan and stay on recovery of agricultural loans.

The state government has submitted a memorandum to the Centre for financial assistance, he said.

"However, my government released Rs 4,000 crore without waiting for the Central assistance through the Direct Benefit Transfer scheme," he said.

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