Temple trusts chip in for Maharashtra drought relief
Mumbai, Feb 12 : Temple trusts and religious bodies, flush with funds, have decided to chip in for drought relief in water scarce regions of Maharashtra, officials said Tuesday.
Mumbai's famed Siddhi Vinayak Temple Trust will donate Rs.25 crore (Rs.250 million) to the Chief Minister's Relief Fund which will be disbursed towards drought relief works wherever it is required.
A temple trustee said a decision was taken in view of the grim water crises affecting several regions of the state such as Marathwada.
The renowned Shri Saibaba Sansthan Trust (SSST) in Shirdi has also decided to donate 1,000 water tanks, each with a capacity of 5,000 litres, to villagers in the drought-hit parts of Ahmednagar district.
An official, who did not want to named, said the proposal would be routed through the district collectorate and after completing all relevant formalities, the SSST would arrange for the funding of the project in phases.
The Pandharpur Temple Trust in Solapur has started contributing to the cause of the drought-hit in a different way, according to chairman Anna Dange.
"We have started providing free meals to around 200 students from drought-hit parts studying in three engineering colleges here," Dange told IANS.
Besides, in view of legal requirements, the trust will soon seek permission from the government to provide financial resources for drought relief as required, Dange said.
In Pune, the Dagdusheth Temple Trust has decided to adopt a drought-hit village in the district and provide for the welfare of its population.
The trust officials met Pune district officials and conveyed their desire.
Alarmed by the worsening situation in some parched areas of the state, some cabinet ministers have also decided to donate a month's salary towards relief for the affected population.
They include Home Minister R.R. Patil and Minorities Affairs Minister Naseem Khan, besides some legislators.
The state gazetted officers' association and a government teachers' union will also contribute Rs.four million for drought relief.
Over 1,300 villages across the state have been hit by severe water scarcity since January and the state government has provided relief worth over Rs.eight billion so far.
Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan reiterated that he has sought an additional Rs.2,500 crore (Rs.25 billion) from the centre to tide over the crises.
Meanwhile, top leaders from various parties, including Chavan from the Congress, Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar, Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena president Raj Thackeray, Republican Party of India chief Ramdas Athawale and others have carried out surveys in the drought-hit areas of the state in the past few weeks.
Maharashtra Governor K. Sankaranarayanan is scheduled to go on a drought-survey tour in March.