Maha budget: Despite farm crisis, government cuts funds for agriculture

Budget allocation tumbles to ₹75,909 crore from last year’s ₹83,000 crore

mumbai Updated: Mar 10, 2018 13:06 IST
Surendra P Gangan
Surendra P Gangan
Hindustan Times
Maharashtra budget,Mumbai,farm crisis
Around 30,000 farmers, who are demanding proper implementation of the loan waiver package and compensation for crop damage, are marching towards Mumbai. The rally left from Nashik on Wednesday.(Rishikesh Choudhary/ HT Photo)

Burdened with the Rs34,022-crore loan waiver, the state government reduced its budgetary allocation for agriculture and allied sectors to Rs75,909 crore from the last year’s Rs83,000 crore. The reduction comes a day after the Economic Survey projected that the sector will contract 8.3% in 2017-18. The contraction was attributed to unseasonal rains, hailstorms and pest attack.

The negative growth may spoil the state’s plan to doubling the farm income in the next five years.

After announcing the loan waiver in June last year, the state government had made a budgetary allocation of Rs35,000 crore by way of supplementary demands during the monsoon and winter sessions last year.

It has so far credited Rs13,782 crore into 35.68 lakh farmers’ bank accounts.

The budget 2018-19 has also set aside more than Rs10,000 crore for loan waiver for the remaining farmers.

The government, which has been talking about the sustainable development of agriculture, has introduced schemes with no financial implications.

While 327 irrigation projects need more than Rs90,000 crore, the government has failed to increase allocation for them. Against last year’s provision of Rs8,283 crore, the 2018-19 budget has allocated Rs8,233 crore, including the provision of Rs3,115 crore for 26 projects under Prime Minister Krishi Shinchai Yojana.

The budget set aside Rs1,500 crore for the Jalyukta Shivar Yojana, its ambitious water conservation scheme. The scheme targets to make 5,000 villages drought free every year. Another Rs160 crore has been provided for farm wells and ponds, and Rs432 crore for drip irrigation. Agriculture experts, however, slammed the government for flaws in implementation of schemes.

“There are big numbers thrown at farmers in the name of attractive schemes, but their benefits hardly reach them. They should clarify if provisions made for drip irrigation and wells are towards the dues that the government owes to farmers. The government has announced Rs 75000 crore, but is there any provision for the capital?” asked farm activist Giradhar Patil.

Finance minister Sudhir Mungantiwar said that though there was a drop in the budgetary allocation, it does not include the second batch of farm loan waiver.

He said that his government will ensure adequate funds for irrigation projects, besides the central aid and lending by state agencies.

The Opposition criticised the state government for the ‘inflated’ figures. “It has been boasting of huge allocation, but it has not been able to give adequate power to agricultural pumps and minimum support price for produce,” said Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil, leader of opposition in the legislative assembly.

The state has also provided Rs3 crore for promotion of sericulture and Rs100 crore for organic agriculture.

The state has sanctioned Rs922 crore for supply of wheat and rice at Rs2 and Rs3 per kg to be distributed at 14 suicide prone districts through ration shops.

First Published: Mar 10, 2018 13:06 IST