The state government has set a target to invest Rs 26,000 crore in agriculture and irrigation schemes to help small and marginal farmers in Maharashtra. Apart from the allocations, the government is exploring the land monetisation model to generate more finances that would help it invest in agriculture and allied sectors.
According to sources, all projects undertaken in the Rs 26,000 crore budget allocation would be completed in 2017-18 and the irrigation potential generated would be of 14 lakh hectares.
Highly placed sources in the government said Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis had issued directives to the ministries of finance, agriculture and water resources to maximise the budget allocation in schemes which would directly help small and marginal farmers left out of the institutional credit mechanism.
The government has set a target to bring in 31 lakh farmers within the crop loan credit mechanism. Currently, of the 1.36 lakh farmers in the state, almost 1.08 lakh are covered in the crop loan credit worth Rs 1.14 lakh crore.
Almost Rs 8,000 crore has been provided for the completion of 70 incomplete irrigation projects that would bring 1.70 lakh hectares of land under irrigation.
An allocation of Rs 5,000 crore has been made for Jalyukta Shivar to bring 12 lakh hectares of land under irrigation. To provide electricity connection to agriculture pumps for 1.5 lakh farmers, investments for infrastructure worth Rs 1,500 crore has been set aside. The investment for rural roads is Rs 3,000 crore and crop loan insurance is Rs 2,000 crore.
A source in the Ministry of Revenue and Finance said: “There are prime government buildings and land which are given on lease at a nominal fee of Re 1 to several institutions. If we open up some of these structures for private auction and give an additional floor space index, we can easily raise Rs 35,000 crore to Rs 50,000 crore.”
There are structures that have been given on long lease and have not helped the government to earn any revenue for the past 60 years. “Funds generated through the land bank or the monetisation model can be rerouted through the agriculture and the irrigation sector to achieve our target to double the income for farmers by 2021,” said a senior officer who did not wish to be named.
Talking about the Uttar Pradesh model, he said: “There cannot be any comparison between UP and Maharashtra where the geographical conditions and challenges are different in the agriculture sector.”
The officer added: “The irrigation potential of UP is as high as 98 per cent with 100 per cent fertile agriculture land enabling farmers an average of two crops a year. The well-to-do farmers go for three crops a year. Whereas, Maharashtra’s irrigation potential is just 18 per cent, far below the national average of 42 per cent. Thus, indicating almost 82 per cent land is dependent on rain-fed agriculture with farmers in drought prone districts struggling for one crop.”