Year after Fundkar’s death, Maharashtra doesn’t have full-time agriculture minister
It’s been a year since the death of Maharashtra’s then agriculture minister Pandurang Fundkar, and the state, which is facing water scarcity in many areas, still does not have a full-time minister.
The state has a full-time secretary at agriculture department with additional charge of another department.
After Fundkar’s death on May 31, 2018, chief minister Devendra Fadnavis had kept the agriculture ministry to himself for the first few months.
Later, he passed on the ministry to Chandrakant Patil who is the revenue, relief and rehabilitation minister.
Eknath Dawale, who till recently was holding additional charge of agriculture department, has now been made secretary of agriculture department. Dawale also has additional charge of water conservation department.
A senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader said that since the assembly elections will be held in the state in September-October, the chief minister may go for cabinet expansion to accommodate more party workers or leaders awaiting induction into the party.
The government, however, has denied the allegations that the absence of a full-time secretary and a minister has hampered any decision-making process.
“The decision to allocate the ministry is the chief minister’s call. But from my side, I am giving as much attention to agriculture ministry as it warrants,” said Patil.
The absence of full-time minister along with secretary in a crucial ministry such as agriculture may adversely impact decision-making, especially when farmers are reeling under severe drought conditions. People working in agricultural fields said that the absence of a full-time minister is affecting the functioning of ministry when decisions such as seeds, fertilisers, crop loans are to be taken ahead of the Kharif season (during the monsoon).
Ajit Navale, Maharashtra general secretary of Akhil Bharatiya Kisan Sabha, said, “For the proper functioning of agriculture ministry, it is indispensable for the state to have an independent minister. Our state has had a very negative impact of not having an agriculture minister. The biggest impact is visible in the functioning of the bureaucracy. As there is no one to command it, the implementation of schemes gets affected which eventually results into the failure of policies.”
He added, “It is the failure of the state government that at the time of severe drought-like conditions in Maharashtra, we don’t have an agriculture minister, who can conduct review meetings of the situation on a daily basis. Because the bureaucracy is not accountable to any one, the implementation of schemes has slowed down, ultimately resulting into the problems faced by farmers.”