India's federal government will give Rs 1,208 crore ($222.39 million) to drought-hit western Maharashtra state, farm minister Sharad Pawar said on Wednesday, as the state struggles to provide drinking water to thousands of people.
The country's biggest sugar and pulses producer and second biggest producer of cotton and soybean is reeling under the worst drought in more than four decades, after receiving lower rainfall during the monsoon season June to September 2012.
"There's shortage of drinking water. The affected area has many dams but there was no rain in the catchment area," Pawar told reporters.
Nearly 12,000 villages in the state have been affected by drought and the state government has deployed nearly 2,500
Maharashtra is the country's biggest economy accounting for more than a tenth of India's gross domestic product.
Shortage of fodder has been prompting farmers in the state to feed cattle mature cane, but the lower sugar output in Maharashtra is unlikely to pull down the world's biggest sugar consumer's total output as the situation is better in the northern Uttar Pradesh state, the second biggest sugar producer.
India's sugar output is seen at 24 million tonnes in 2013-14 year starting from Oct. 1, compared with 24.5 million tonnes this year, he added.
"It's the second consecutive year of poor rains in the affected regions in Maharashtra. The answer is better irrigation," said Pawar.