With no significant provisions for mitigation of drought in the state, agriculture experts have slammed the Centre’s Budget for 2013-14 announced on Thursday.
More than 16 districts of the state are affected by drought, some of them facing the worst-ever crisis after the drought of 1972. While the state government had demanded Rs 2,200 crore for its Accelerated Irrigation Benefit Programme, finance minister PC Chidambaram did not announce any relief package for Maharashtra. MP and agriculture activist Raju Shetty said, “The provision of Rs1,800 crore for five drought-hit states in the country is too little. We were expecting provisions for the projects started under the irrigation programme.”
An officer from the relief and rehabilitation department, requesting anonymity, said, “The drought-relief fund provisions are included in the non-plan part of the Budget, and hence don’t require independent allocation. The provisions for relief are to be made by various departments such as agriculture and water resources. The state has submitted its revised demand for the Central fund. We are hopeful that we will get the funds. However, a separate provision by the finance minister could have provided the much-needed respite.”
State government officials claim that the agricultural sector will benefit from the funds and subsidies granted. Sudhir Kumar Goyal, additional chief secretary, agriculture, said, “The Budget has made provisions for the rise in the farm loan target and funding under various schemes. The rural infrastructure development fund and construction of warehouses in villages would give a fillip to direct marketing of farm produce.”