To tackle the regional imbalance in development in the state, the Maharashtra government has sanctioned projects worth Rs 3 lakh crore in the backward regions of Vidarbha and Marathwada in the last two years. The sectors were policy corrections were taken include agriculture infrastructure and industries, which have remained in a state of neglect in the two drought-affected regions, which have also seen a large number of farmer suicides.
The biggest financial plan was sanctioned for Marathwada at Rs 49,248 crore, including Rs 9,291 crore provided for irrigation projects, Rs 5,326 crore for railway projects, Rs 3,000 crore for roads, Rs 250 crore for Aurangabad’s airport expansion, Rs 2,400 crore for development of cities, Rs 1,885 crore for water conservation and Rs 450 crore for micro-irrigation, among others.
Vidarbha’s mega projects include the Rs 46,000-crore Nagpur-Mumbai Samruddhi Corridor, the Nagpur Metro Rail worth Rs 8,680 crore and textile hubs with investment of Rs 3,700 crore, among others. The digital transformation of Nagpur district, encompassing 776 gram panchayats, is being extended to the rest of the Vidarbha region. Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, while speaking to The Indian Express, said, “I will define it (Nagpur-Mumbai Samruddhi Expressway) as a highway to prosperity and a major game changer, as it will transform the entire corridor comprising 24 townships (nodes) beyond Vidarbha and Marathwada. It opens the development doors in both sectors — agriculture and industries.” He added that the land pooling model has evoked a good response.
Drought had been identified as the foremost problem to be tackled by the state government, Fadnavis said. The people in the state will have to be given a level playing field across the region for healthy development of Maharashtra, he added. “The agrarian crisis in Vidarbha and Marathwada is an outcome of the wrong policies of the past, and it cannot be left unattended,” said Fadnavis.
Today, 14 districts which have faced the maximum number of farmer suicides are located in Vidarbha and Marathwada. Fadnavis pushed the Centre to grant Rs 9,500 crore for completion of irrigation projects in the 14 drought-affected districts of Vidarbha and Marathwada.
Another corrective measure included giving priority to textile centres in the cotton-growing regions. As a result, it tapped Rs 4,500 crore investments through public-private partnership in the textile sector. Fadnavis said, “The farm to fashion concept is now a reality. At Nandgaon Peth, the units are already operational and on an expansion spree.” Vidarbha houses three textile hubs at Amravati, Yavatmal and Buldhana districts. In Marathwada, four textile hubs are in process at Mazalgaon (Beed), Kunnor (Nanded) and Kannad (Aurangabad), Selu (Parbhani). Of the total 10 remaining, three are at Jamner (Jalgaon), Bhaler (Nandurbar) and Malegaon (Nashik). To attract industries in Vidarbha, the government has earmarked land for promoting defence, aviation and electronic hubs in Nagpur under Make in India, Make in Maharashtra projects.
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According to the industries department, of the total 8 lakh crore MoUs signed during Make in India Week, Rs 1.5 lakh crore were tapped for Vidarbha and Marathwada.