THE STATE government’s decision to increase the scope of food subsidies to rural families in drought-hit talukas will lead to a hike in expenditure by 15 to 20 per cent between January and June next year. Also, providing employment under under the Rojgar Hami Yojana (RHY) will increase expenditure by 40 per cent.
The state government has urged the Centre to consider these aspects and quickly provide a financial aid of Rs 7,500 crore to tackle the drought situation in Maharashtra.
The food subsides, which is given to families belonging to the below poverty line (BPL) category, is being extended to the above poverty line (APL) category in the 151 talukas that have been declared drought-hit.
Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said, “The government will extend food subsidy to families under the APL category.”
He added, “The food subsidy given to the those below the poverty line (BPL) is at Rs 2 per kg for wheat and Rs 3 per kg for rice. The expenditure incurred on food subsidy for BPL category in the last four years is Rs 2,100 crore. It has covered 14 drought districts of Maharashtra.” It includes eight districts of Marathwada and six districts of Vidarbha region of Maharashtra, which come under the category of drought-hit and see higher farmer suicides.
According to statistics furnished by the ministry of social welfare and justice, “Of the total 11.40 crore population in Maharashtra, around 30 per cent come under the BPL category and nearly 95 lakh come under the APL category.”
The government’s decision to extend the food subsidies to APL category is likely to increase the expenditure by 10 to 15 per cent, sources in the ministry of food and civil supplies indicated.
A senior secretary in ministry of agriculture and water conservation said, “The average rainfall of 73 per cent has lead to water scarcity leading to drought situation in almost 151 talukas of Maharashtra. But there is no shortage of food grain in state.”