NCP chief Sharad Pawar on Sunday said the agriculture losses due to the recent floods in parts of western Maharashtra and Marathwada were "unprecedented" and assured expeditious financial help to the affected farmers. Addressing a meeting of farmers in Tuljapur-Paranda area of Osmanabad district in Marathwada, the former Union agriculture minister assured them that he would discuss the issue of financial relief with Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and also seek assistance from the Centre.
Heavy rains and floods claimed at least 48 lives in Maharashtra's Pune, Konkan and Aurangabad divisions while crops on lakhs of hectares were damaged extensively due to heavy rains in the last few days, officials said on Friday. "This is unprecedented. The land has been destroyed in such a way that crops cannot be sown again for a couple of years. Floods have destroyed the agricultural economy in this area," Pawar said.
"Standing crops have been destroyed and the land has been damaged. Everything needs to be rectified. The state government cannot do it alone. We will speak to the Centre as well regarding a long-term package and immediate assistance," said Pawar, whose party is a coalition partner in the Thackeray-led state government. The NCP chief asked farmers not to give up hope.
"It is a huge crisis and we all will tide over it unitedly," he said. Pawar recalled how the region bravely faced the 1993 earthquake in Latur and Osmanabad, with its epicentre at Killari (in Latur), in which nearly 10,000 people died.
"We overcame the problems that time and now also, we will rise to the occasion," said Pawar, who was the state's chief minister at that time. Pawar said the CM has to stay alert on many occasions, one of them being immersion of idols during the Ganesh festival.
"Until the last idol is immersed, the chief minister cannot sleep. That day, there was a problem in Panvel (Navi Mumbai) during the immersion and I was busy in discussions with the local administration for resolution of the problem. "It was 3.15 am and I went to sleep. But at 4 am, the doors and windows of my house shook and I realised it was an earthquake. I found out the epicentre was Killari," he recalled.