The state government Tuesday presented a Rs 16,094-crore supplementary demands for the current financial year ending March 2015. The major component included a Rs 9,000-crore allocation for agriculture, irrigation, crop loans and other relief to drought-hit farmers.
The government also provided Rs 1,229 crore for local bodies tax (LBT). The decision to scrap LBT appears to have worked on the budget with the government sustaining expenditure of the local bodies in state.
The break-up of the supplementary demands shows non-plan component of Rs 9,374 crore and plan component of Rs 5,916 crore. Additional financial allocations, reflecting midway budget corrections on account of expenditure above allocated annual budget, is likely to increase the fiscal deficit.
In March 2015, when the budget was presented, the total amount was Rs 2.30 lakh crore. The state’s plan size was Rs 54,999 crore. But the drought has taken a toll on the budget. Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis’ flagship programme “Jalyukt Shivar” found special mention, with allocations of Rs 600 crore in supplementary demands.
The state government has already completed one-lakh water conservation projects worth Rs 1,400 crore spread across 6,200 villages, which were worst hit by drought in financial year 2014-15.
Fadnavis on Tuesday said, “I admit the farmers’ crisis is grave in Maharashtra. We will have to go the extra mile to mitigate the hardships of farmers on account of recurring droughts.”
Fadnavis said, “Long- and short-term policy measures undertaken in the first year yielded positive results in water conservation sector. The relief to farmers and other related drought measures have led to substantial hike in the budget. Yet, financial constrains will not come in way of lending financial and logistic help to Maharashtra’s farmers.”
Acknowledging that supplementary budget’s major component was to address agro-related projects, he said, “Along with drought, hailstorm and unseasonal rains compounded farmers’ crisis.” “The government will not be found lacking in overriding the farmers’ crisis despite financial constrains,” said Fadnavis.
Almost 82 lakh farmers out of 1.3 crore have been covered under crop insurance. There are 68 lakh families of farmers across 14 districts of Vidarbha and Marathwada who have been provided special component, including subsidized food, Rs 2 per kg wheat and Rs 3 per kg rice. In addition, free education, healthcare and power subsidies would continue.
The supplementary demands include a sizeable component of Rs 4,000 crore for revenue department, which is also related to drought mitigation followed by Rs 752 crore for social justice, Rs 450 crore for home department, which includes Rs 200 crore for police housing projects. The urban development department got Rs 2,816 crore among others.