Maharashtra is seeking a central assistance of Rs 4,500 crore to override the agriculture crisis in the state following drought, hailstorm and unseasonal rain. Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and Agriculture Minister Eknath Khadse have taken up the matter with Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and Union Agriculture Minister Radhamohan Singh.
The Centre had sent officials to some drought-hit districts of Marathwada to ascertain facts presented by the state government. The Centre indicated that delay in release of the financial package is because of late filing of report. The state government’s own package included crop loans to farmers worth Rs 34,200 crore during 2014-15 (November). The state government stood guarantor for banks and institutions lending to farmers.
Sources conveyed that Radhamohan Singh indicated some delay in receiving the comprehensive report from Maharashtra government. Facts based on ground situation had to be ascertained first.
A senior cabinet minister said, “We sought a special package and sent a detailed report four to five months ago. But there were some aspects related to guidelines, which led us to revise our report.”
The second kharif sowing coupled with early rabi sowing led us to wait for completion of crop cycle before making fresh assessments. Fadnavis had given directives to the department of relief and rehabitation to process compensation and special subsidies to farmers without waiting for financial help from the Centre.
The state conveyed the details along with the financial component to tackle the crisis. It included a special package to 68 lakh farmers from 14 districts of Vidarbha and Marathwada, which have maximum suicides. Overall, 819 crore were incurred on free power and 47.28 lakh new electricity connections. Waiver of electricity charges, heavily subsidised rice at Rs 3 per kg and wheat at Rs 2 per kg upset the state budget.