In the run-up to the civic polls, the Devendra Fadnavis cabinet has announced a Rs 316-crore dole for “ailing” cotton cooperatives. Fadnavis also extended a cover for thousands of families illegally residing in transit camps of the Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (Mhada) across Mumbai. Signalling his government’s intention of accommodating these “encroachers” in the government’s Housing-For-All scheme, Fadnavis Monday formed a cabinet sub-committee under Maharashtra’s Housing Minister Prakash Mehta to finalise the regularisation policy.
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The big dole
The Centre has taken up measures to rationalise various dole-based schemes in the textile sector, but the Maharashtra government has extended a new loan waiver scheme for the 130 cotton cooperatives in the state. According to the proposal, the government will bear the interest burden on loans availed by cotton cooperatives from the National Cooperative Development Corporation (NCDC) or other lending institutions.
The waiver will be applicable for five years, and would be eligible for loans up to Rs 3000 per spindle, informed top sources. The move will put a burden of Rs 52 crore a year or Rs 260 crore in all on the state. Besides, the government has ta ken upon itself another Rs 56 crore one-time burden by accepting a proposal for non-capitalisation of interest accrued by these mills. The total dole rolled out thus works out to Rs 316 crore.
Sources confirmed that the state’s fiscal managers had advised the government against the move, cautioning that it amounted to “incentivising” inefficiency. The political leadership overruled the objections.
Justifying the sops, a senior minister said that cotton cooperatives were “bleeding” for the last couple of years. “The sales from these mills have not commensurated with the rising costs,” he said. It was also pointed out that the treasury bench had given an assurance in respect of the incentive during the winter session of the legislature.
Over forty per cent of cotton cooperatives are in Western Maharashtra where BJP is looking at denting the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party vote banks. Vidharbha accounts for about 28 mills, Marathwada has 21, and North Maharashtra 16.
Houses for residents
About 8,500 families residing illegally in Mhada’s transit camps are expected to benefit from the government’s move to regularise their stay. Earlier last week, Fadnavis had announced sops for redevelopment of registered housing societies in Mhada colonies. The latest move is being seen as the BJP’s move to reach out to another segment of voters in Mhada areas—the encroachers.
Sources said political interference blocked previous attempts of the administration to evict encroachers. “People who have bought the tenements from the original inhabiltants comprise a major chunk of encroachers. Since attempts for eviction failed, it was felt the best way was to formulate a regularisation policy for them.”
The options of making such families pay construction cost for the tenements or collect a penalty against regularisation are being discussed.