Maharashtra government to have 100% Aadhaar card holders in 3 months: Eknath Khadse

In the next three months, Maharashtra will have 100% Aadhaar card holders from the current 80%, according to agriculture and revenue minister Eknath Khadse.

To ensure this, he said, the government was buying 2,000 additional computers. Once everyone had Aadhaar cards, it would be easier for the government to implement various welfare schemes, Khadse told dna correspondent Sudhir Suryawanshi during an exclusive interview, covering various issues, including the looming drought situation in the state. Excerpts:

How is the drought situation in Maharashtra given the fact that there is only 7% water in the dams?

Khadse: We have been experimenting with cloud seeding in three districts – Beed, Latur and Usmanabad. The result has been quite satisfactory so far. In last three days, due to cloud seeding, most parts of these districts received 8-30mm rainfall. This amount of rainfall is good to grow fodder as well. Nevertheless, I have told drought-prone area district collectors to identify locations to start fodder camps so that animals don’t starve. Are you planning to extend cloud seeding to other districts as well?

Certainly, if the situation demands and weather is conducive for the experiment. Our planes are always ready and connected to the radar. Cloud seeding has been done with the cooperation of the meteorology department. However, natural rainfall has also started in many parts of the state. Vidarbha is receiving good rainfall. Currently, our only concern is Marathwada. Fodder is a major issue. Man can survive but to keep the animals alive in drought is a big challenge.

Has government prepared any contingency plan?
A few days ago, I had spoken to both Madya Pradesh and Karnataka governments to get fodder from them as they were close to the Marathwada region. We are committed to help the people. We have also decided to use hydroponic technology to grow fodder quickly and in large quantity. This innovative technology has been developed in Australia and is widely used in Europe and other parched regions. By using this technology, fodder can be grown in ten days only, and that too without using the soil. It is clean, neat and an easy solution to fodder shortage problem.

Any feedback after beef was banned in Maharashtra?
There are all sorts of opinions. Most of the people welcomed the move, a few of them did not liked it. The minority community met me and told that on Bakri Eid, the poor used to slaughter unproductive bulls and consume their meat. It was affordable for them. But I convinced them that going by the name of the festival, on Bakri Eid, only bakri (goat) should be sacrificed and not other animals.

After beef ban, you had said that cowsheds (goshalas) will be opened soon to protect unproductive animals. What happened?
The proposal is moving at a snail’s pace. But we are committed to start cowsheds soon. We have already identified seven locations for cowsheds. The land reserved for Gayrans will be used to set up cowsheds. We have several Gayrans in the state. Also, the Centre is ready to provide the fund.

The Supreme Court has said that the Aadhaar card should not be made mandatory. Any comments?
In Maharashtra, 80% people are having their Aadhaar cards. The apex court said Aadhaar should not be made compulsory but it permitted to use it for PDS and LPG. If all residents are having Aadhaar cards, then it can be made mandatory. We have decided to buy 2,000 computers for Aadhaar work. Our target is 100% Aadhaar penetration in the state in next three months.

Do you think the LBT decision was taken in a hurry to please the business community?
We had promised an LBT-free Maharashtra during the state elections. We fulfilled it after coming to power. The additional burden created by scrapping of LBT will be offset by fees of stamp duty and registrations which will go to respective municipal corporations.