The state government has proposed to spend more than Rs7,300 crore on the ailing agriculture sector — in desperate need of assistance after registering negative growth in the previous financial year — and on irrigation. However, this may not translate into direct assistance to farmers.
Moreover, this year’s state budget continued to neglect dry land farming – which is of serious concern in view of erratic weather conditions – and has proposed an outlay of merely Rs200 crore.
Other than a concession of Rs2,500 crore in power bills, which will be paid to state distribution company Mahavitaran, another key area of expenditure is a proposed grant of Rs850 crore for the rural employment scheme – which will only benefit those farmers who register for it. An outlay of Rs 2500 crore has been proposed for programme to improve irrigation.
Apart from this, Rs138crore has been allocated for providing farm loans at low interest rates. Six districts in Vidarbha, which have seen a spate of farmer suicides, will get a paltry Rs40.5 crore for an agriculture development scheme.
Kishore Tiwari of the Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti expressed his surprise over the neglect of distressed farmers.
“He (state finance minister Ajit Pawar) has given us peanuts. I understand his problem, he is heading a bankrupt finance department.” He said most schemes Pawar spoke of in his budget speech were Centre-promoted ones.
Alleging that the Congress-led government’s progress in the irrigation sector was almost zero in the past decade, senior BJP legislator Devendra Fadnavis said: “The government added to the state’s irrigation by just 0.1. The figures given by the government establish this.”