THE MAHARASHTRA government is reviewing its budgetary priorities to ensure that its five flagship projects are not affected by the fund shortfall due to the Rs 34,000 crore loan waiver for 89 lakh farmers.
A highly placed source in the government’s infrastructure sub-committee told The Indian Express, “None of the flagship projects which has been rolled out is likely to be hit by the loan waiver. The list includes Jalyukta Shivar, Maharashtra Metro, the Nagpur-Mumbai Samruddhi Corridor, Digital Maharashtra and affordable housing.”
The source added, “The budget allocated for the Jalyukta Shivar project does not exceed Rs 2,500 crore. So there is no question of curtailing the funds, even in the next budget (2018-19). Besides, the state government has committed to making 25,000 villages across Maharashtra drought-free by 2019, and it will not compromise on this as it directly affects agriculture and farmers. At present, 11,494 villages have become drought-free. In the next three years, allocation of Rs 1,600-2,000 crore per year would help achieve the target.”
Another flagship project, the Samruddhi Corridor, is also unlikely to be affected as it directly concerns agriculture and farmers. With its 24 nodes, the corridor will provide a value chain for agriculture produce through sustainable ago-industries. The financial tie-up for these mega projects would be with international borrowers for long term high and low interest rates.
While announcing the loan waiver two weeks ago, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis had indicated that the government’s capital investment in agriculture would not be impacted.
The state government has also decided to push its 26 ongoing irrigation projects worth Rs 32,000 crore listed in the Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana. Sources said that projects worth at least Rs 10,500 crore, funded entirely by the Centre, would help to complete the irrigation projects in the 14 distressed districts of Marathwada and Vidarbha.
Due to the loan waiver, officials acknowledged, they would not allow any new projects in any sectors. They said bank loans and land securitisation were being seriously considered as options to partly provide the financial cushion for additional expenditure. Sources said that the government is unlikely to abandon any of the mega-infrastructure projects. After the loan waiver, the infrastructure committee has been directed to reset its priorities and timetable.
A senior official said, “Whether it was the 172-km, eight phases Metro costing Rs 75,000 crore or the Rs 46,000-crore Nagpur-Mumbai Samruddhi Corridor, the Rs 12,000-crore coastal road or the Rs 9,500-crore Mumbai Trans Harbour Link, the government is working on long term loans spread over 40 years from international companies like JICA and ADB at extremely low interest rates not exceeding 0.5 per cent. And the government is not bound to make any payment for the first few years which helps it to cope with the financial constraints for the next two to three years.”