Here’s the truth behind the grand figures announced in the special farmers packages by both the state and Central governments for Vidarbha’s six worst-affected districts.
The performance audit of the packages reveals, for starters, that the packages were not as big as they were made out to be.
“In the Government of India’s Rs 3,750-crore package, Rs 239 crore was overstated. And, in the state government’s package, at least three components worth Rs 306 crore were not for Vidarbha alone,” said Sunil Dhadde, accountant general with CAG.
Dhadde’s office that prepared the audit by checking government records and expenditure incurred in the schemes had a tough time just getting reliable data. The report states that the government has “no reliable data” on the expenditure incurred on the various components as implementing and coordinating agencies have different figures. The implementation at the grassroots itself threw up glaring deficiencies.
For instance, in 36 per cent of the cases, there was a delay in handing out relief to suicide farmer’s families — this ranged from 10 days to 333 days. While the interest was claimed by banks from the state, they did not extend fresh loans to around 49 per cent of needy farmers. The long-term goals of the package also seemed difficult to achieve.
For instance, Rs 2,177 crore of the prime minister’s package reserved for creating irrigation potential of 1.6 lakh hectares in Vidarbha, in three years was likely to fail. The reason: funds from the Centre were too slow in coming and the state government had gone ahead with unfeasible projects.
Four important components including a ban on moneylending activities, joint farming of cotton, helpline for farmers received no allocation in the package, not even for its publicity. No surprises then that 36 per cent of Vidarbha’s most needy farmers are not even aware of the government packages.