New Delhi, Aug 1: Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar will on Wednesday begin his three-day tour to take stock of four drought-hit states of Maharashtra, Gujarat, Rajasthan and Karnataka.
Pawar will lead a team to drought-affected areas during August 1-3 to assess the rain deficit and water scarcity situation. He will be accompanied by Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh when he meets the chief ministers of these four states to discuss the situation.
Pawar will first visit Maharashtra and later Karnataka on Thursday. He will also hold meetings in Gujarat and Rajasthan on Friday.
While the all-India average of rainfall deficiency is 21 percent, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Gujarat and Rajasthan are the worst affected regions.
Different regions in Karnataka have seen rain deficiency between 21 percent to 44 percent with the maximum impact felt in south interior parts of the state.
The government had on Tuesday announced a relief package of over Rs. 1,900 crore to states facing drought-like situation. It also offered fifty percent subsidy on diesel to the farmers in places where shortfall of rains have occurred.
Talking to media here after meeting of Empowered Group of Ministers (EGoM) earlier, Pawar said 25 percent of the subsidy on diesel will be borne by the Centre and 25 percent of it will be shared by the state governments.
The EGoM approved 1,440 crore rupees to Karnataka, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Gujarat under integrated watershed management programme.
Another Rs. 453 crore will be given under the National Rural Drinking Water Programme (NRDWP) to Maharashtra,
Pawar said that the contingency plan prepared by the Centre also include some other measures to tackle the drought like situation in various states. He said that the contingency plan has been made for those 320 districts where monsoon rains have been poor.
Besides these measures, the government is also trying to provide States with additional electricity to draw water from tubewells. (ANI)