Declaring nine districts in Maharashtra to be scarcity-hit, the State government said on Saturday that it was ready to tackle the situation.

Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan said at a press conference here that the Centre had been asked to send a committee soon to review the situation in the districts.

“The districts of Satara, Sangli, Pune, Ahmednagar, Solapur, Nashik, Latur, Osmanabad and Dhule have been declared scarcity-hit and the State government will extend any support that is needed,” Mr. Chavan said after conducting a review meeting with the State's Guardian Ministers, Collectors, senior district officials and the divisional commissioners of the region. He informed that the ministers of the relevant departments had been touring the districts the past one week.

Later in the day, Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar, who visited Satara earlier this week, stated that a Central committee would visit the districts in the next two to three days.

“Drinking water, fodder for animals and employment for labourers under the Employment Guarantee Scheme (EGS) will be provided by the State. Pending electricity bills for regional water distribution boards will be paid by the State and alternatives for water supply from neighbouring States are being explored,” Mr. Chavan said.

The least cost solution principle would be kept aside, and all costs necessary to tackle the situation will be borne by the State, he added. This includes purchase of water tankers, and repair of old drinking water tankers.

“The State government had planted fodder in 35,000 hectares, which will be ready for harvest by April 15 and will be distributed to needy villages. Under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, wells will be dug up in the scarcity-hit villages, Mr. Chavan said.

Control room

He said a scarcity control room will be set up in each of the districts, where the Collector will get information from all the tehsildars and send them to the Secretariat everyday.

Press conferences should be held everyday to keep people informed, he stated, requesting the officials not to take any leave during the period, as the situation was being dealt with “on a war footing.”

State government to provide drinking water, fodder and employment

Central committee to visit districts in two-three days