Maharashtra govt to provide Rs 200 cr power bill relief to drought hit farmers

Apart from the electricity bills, there is also pressure on the government to spell out crop loss compensation to the farmers.

Written by Shubhangi Khapre | Mumbai | Updated: November 25, 2014 9:06 pm

Maharashtra government will incur the financial burden of Rs 200 crore by enforcing the drought guidelines of waiving 33 per cent electricity bills in 19,069 villages across state. The cabinet which has been convened on Thursday will take a formal decision.

On Tuesday, revenue minister Eknath Khadse said, “We are considering to provide relief to the farmers by electricity bill waiver upto 33
per cent which has been provided in the guidelines for drought situation.”

Apart from the electricity bills, there is also pressure on the government to spell out crop loss compensation to the farmers. If the crop loss compensation, power waiver and loan waiver is taken into consideration it would go upto Rs 800 crore.

The financial implications of electricity bill waiver to farmers in drought region has already set the ministry of power and finance worried. Highly placed sources in the power ministry told Indian Express, “The extent of financial burden would depend to what extent, period and region the government plans to enforce the power relief.”

If the waiver is confined to only regions hit by drought upto 33 percent it would not exceed Rs 200 crore additional burden on the state
finances.

The state mobilises Rs 1,200 crore annually from the agriculture bills. Currently, the drought like situation is identified in 19,069 villages out of the total 39,134 villages in state. The drought has in varying degree affected at least 18 to 20 lakh farmers across the region of Marathwada, Vidarbha , Konkan and parts of North Maharashtra.

Unlike in the past the “agriculture drought” has badly affected the crops due to delayed rains or unseasonal hail storms.

However, the government has come under pressure from Shiv Sena and Congress to take generous view in providing relief to the farmers
across Maharashtra.

The MPCC chief Manikrao Thakre said, “The government should provide both loan and electricity waiver to the farmers in the drought hit
areas.” The Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray has also urged the government to extend financial relief to farmers.

Sources in the finance ministry said, “The state can manage the additional financial burden upto Rs 200 crore. However, if the government is forced to give complete electricity waiver instead of just 33 per cent it would increase from Rs 200 crore to Rs 600 crore.”

Insiders indicated the state government is seeking the package from the centre to tide over the agrarian crisis in Maharashtra.

Interestingly, Congress has demanded compensation of Rs 50,000 per hectare for crop loss on fertile land and Rs 25,000 per hectare on
barren land.

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