Refuting allegations of not rendering help to hailstorm affected farmers, Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan today said the state government has disbursed financial aid to them. "It is not that we haven't helped farmers. People are saying that we did not help the farmers on time, but that is not true. We have provided all possible help to the farmers," Chavan told reporters on the occasion of Maharashtra Day celebration at the Mumbai Mayor's bungalow.
He said he had never heard of any other state managing to get financial aid in such a short time. "Even while the code of conduct was in force, we asked for help from Union agriculture minister and the Central government. I have never heard of any other state asking and receiving help in such a short period of time," he claimed. Chavan said he has stood behind the farmers of the state to help them, whatever the situation may be.
Commenting on Indian Meteorological Department's forecast of a less than normal monsoon in parts of Maharashtra, the senior Congress leader said the government has taken stock of the possibility of a poor monsoon. "We have got information from the meteorological department that it might rain less this year. We have thought of what help needs to be given to farmers," he said. "We have informed the district collectors about the possibility of low rains this year and have given them instructions on what needs to be done. Also, wherever there is drought, we have provided tankers and water," he said.
He dismissed reports of a huge police force being deployed at the state secretariat 'Mantralaya' to operate telephone calls. "This process (deployment of security) is being followed for many days. But it is not that a large number of policemen are being deployed at Mantralaya for security duty.
Minimum force has been deployed there and we keep on reviewing security arrangements to further bring down the security," Chavan said. The Chief Minister also said that government employees who have been busy with election work will be called back on duty, if the need arises.
"If there is any natural disaster, then government employees will be called back from election duty by taking special permission and will be made to aid in the relief work," he said in a reply to a question.
Maharashtra Day was celebrated today in various parts of the state. Maharashtra attained statehood on May 1, 1960. On the occasion, Governor K Sankaranarayanan took salute of a ceremonial parade held at Shivaji Park in Central Mumbai. A report from Nagpur said state social justice minister Shivajirao Moghe took salute of a ceremonial parade at the Kasturchand Park ground in the city.
Addressing a function, Moghe said Maharashtra has contributed immensely in the development of the country. He complimented the people of the state and also the labour class on the occasion of Labour Day, celebrated worldwide today. Divisional Commissioner Anoop Kumar, Commissioner of Police K P Pathak, District Collector Abhishek Krishna and other senior officials were present on the occasion.
State PWD minister Chhagan Bhujbal unfurled the flag at police parade grounds in Nashik on Maharashtra Day. On the occasion, Bhujbal sought cooperation of government officials to resolve the problem of scarcity being felt in summer. Bhujbal, who is the guardian minister of Nashik, later distributed commendation certificates to the police employees for their performance. Divisional Commissioner Eknath Davale, Commissioner of Police, Kulwantkumar Sarangal, Collector Vilas Patil and other senior officials took salute of an impressive parade by police personnel, Home Guards, state Excise, Dog squad, fire-brigade personnel, woman police squad and SRPF.