The per capita income in Maharashtra rose to Rs1,47,399 in 2015-16 from Rs1,32,341 the previous year, according to figures quoted in the economic survey of Maharashtra released two weeks ago. This puts the state in the eight position across the country. But a comparison of per capita income among Maharashtra’s districts reveals a widening gap between the poor and the rich in rural and urban Maharashtra with every passing year. While the top four districts, including Mumbai and Thane, have witnesses a 47% rise in per capital income in four years, the growth in the districts with the lowest income is 32%
According to the survey, the per capita income in Mumbai is Rs2.58 lakh and in Thane it is Rs2.17 lakh against Rs66,110 in Nandurbar and Rs66,462 in Washim in 2015-16. This means the citizens in the district with the lowest income earn merely 25% of the people in the districts with the highest income. In some of the low-income districts such as Hingoli and Parbhani, the income has actually decreased in 2015-16 against the previous year.
The tribal districts such as Gadchiroli and Nadurbar, according to the studies by the NGOs, have the lowest income in the state. The Human Development Index (HDI), too, in the districts with the poor income is among the lowest — Nandurbar (0.604) and Gadchiroli (0.608) against the state HDI of 0.752. In Mumbai and Pune, the HDI is 0.841 and 0.814 respectively.
While the country’s growth rate in per capita income in one year (from 2014-15 to 2015-16) was recorded at 11.37%, it was 6.54% in Gadchiroli and 9.89% in Mumbai.
According to experts, rising economic inequality has to be attributed to government policies that are city-centric and deprive the poor of their fundamental rights. It has been happening over the years. “The new Union government is not an exception to this. The Modi government has launched schemes like Smart city, satellite cities and Amrut for the development of tier I and II cities in the states. The central government massively funds the schemes for the development of these cities. Even in Maharashtra, big-ticket projects such as Metro and Railways are being implemented in cities like Mumbai, Thane and Pune. The backward districts have hardly seen any new industries that can generate employment,” said Rupesh Keer, coordinator of Samarthan, an NGO that studies the state budget and its socio-political impact.
In his reply to a debate in the legislative assembly last week, chief minister Devendra Fadnavis had said 65% revenue come from the urban sector and the development of the cities was imperative. He also said at the uneven equation of the dependency of 45% of the population on agriculture against the sector’s 10% contribution to the GSDP.
“The gap between the cities and the rural parts is widening significantly because of the failure of achieving the potential growth in the manufacturing and agricultural sector. Despite attempts to create a more skilled workforce, we have failed to generate job opportunities for the lower middle class. The service sector has driven growth in cities leading to the impressive rise in income in the cities. I think economic inequality will pose a major problem in the future in the country and the recent outcry in the Maratha community was an example of the it,” said Milind Murugkar, a expert on rural development.