Former AAP leader Yogendra Yadav has urged the Maharashtra government to take immediate steps to resolve the drought crisis in the state.
Yadav, in an 'open' letter to Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has raised doubts over implementation of MNREGA and "special favours being given to sugarcane lobby" in the state. Prior to sending his letter to Fadnavis, he was on a four-day tour of Maharashtra as a part of 'Samvedna Yatra' of the worst drought affected regions in Nanded, Parbhani, Latur, Beed, Solapur, Osmanabad, Jalna, Aurangabad and Jalgoan.
"We came across widespread misery, anxiety and despair. Most farmers have lost their kharif crop and with it their investment," said Yadav, the national convener of 'Jai Kisan Andolan'.
"There is water crisis: water table has gone down, borewells are failing and tanks are empty...If urgent steps are not taken, the drought could turn into a famine for livestock," he said.
Yadav, who earlier formed Swaraj Abhiyan along with activist-lawyer Prashant Bhushan, has listed eight short-term and some long-term suggestions to counter the drought crisis. He wants the state to be declared drought-hit and emergency measures in place to tackle the water crisis. He has suggested proper implementation of MGNREGA and EGS schemes, package for crop loss compensation, restructuring of crop loans and other outstanding personal loans.
Yadav has also suggested enhancement of ration under PDS, a government order on farmers' suicide compensation and meeting shortage of cattle fodder.
"The state must formulate an integrated water plan as mandated by Maharashtra Water Regulatory Authority Act, 2005. All incomplete irrigation projects in chronic drought-prone areas must be completed on priority," he said.
Maintenance of water bodies and small irrigation projects must get priority over sanctioning of new and large irrigation
projects. MNREGA and CSR funds should be used to do maintenance and repairs of rural water supply schemes and minor irrigation works, he suggested.
Yadav has alleged that several schemes, including for drought relief and the EGS, in the state are "riddled with corrupt practices."
Recounting his observations in Beed district where Yadav had an interaction with farmers, he said very few people know about the scheme.
Ponds are dug by the machines, but names of labourers are put on muster roll and fake bills are produced to encash the money in the name of the scheme, he alleged.