Union Minister for Agriculture Sharad Pawar on Wednesday assured financial assistance to Maharashtra for undertaking drought mitigation measures.

The State’s total requirement for immediate mitigation measures before October 15 is Rs. 2,857 crore and Rs. 2,547 crore was requested as Central fund assistance.

Mr. Pawar, accompanied by Union Minister Jairam Ramesh, was here as part of a three-day tour of the drought-afflicted Maharashtra, Gujarat, Karnataka and Rajasthan.

In their first joint meeting after the recent Congress-Nationalist Congress Party rift , there was much bonhomie between Mr. Pawar and Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan. The NCP chief praised Mr. Chavan for his contingency plan to combat drought.

The State government proposes an additional allocation of Rs. 4,599 crore under the ongoing drought mitigation measures that includes a Central assistance of Rs. 1,000 crore to expedite the State Micro Irrigation project and the Accelerated Irrigation Benefit Programme.

It has also proposed new intervention of funds amounting to Rs. 214 crore that includes enhancing fodder development (Rs. 15 crore) and strengthening of regional water supply schemes (Rs. 75 crore).

Mr. Pawar said the empowered group of ministers set up to tackle the grim situation was considering relaxation of Central guidelines to enable smooth funding for drought mitigation measures in the drought-hit States.

The State governments would submit detailed memoranda of incomplete projects in their States for receiving priority funding.

Mr. Ramesh said Rs. 167 crore was released for improving water supply in the drought-afflicted parts in addition to the Rs. 200 crore earlier given to the State. The State had requested the 60:40 funding ratio be restored at the taluka level and not just the gram panchayat level.