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Under fire over agrarian crisis, Devendra Fadnavis releases funds for farmers hit by hail, pest

Opposition parties boycotted the customary tea party held by the government, terming it ‘anti farmer’ and ‘deceptive’.

mumbai Updated: Feb 26, 2018 00:35 IST
Mumbai,Devendra Fadnavis,farmers
Chief minister Devendra Fadnavis with other senior leaders at Sahyadri Guesthouse on Sunday. (Bhushan Koyande/HT)

Pre-empting attacks from the opposition over agrarian crisis during the five-week budget session starting Monday, the Devendra Fadnavis-led government has released state funds to compensate farmers who lost crops to hailstorm and pink bollworm pest. Addressing a press conference at Sahyadri guest house on Sunday, chief minister Fadnavis said he will extend the farm loan waiver to those who could not apply last year. Farmers will be given another chance to register for the waiver from March 1 to March 30, he said.

Crops on 2.63 lakh hectares of land have been affected owing to hailstorm and pink bollworm pest attack. The government has come under attack from opposition parties for allegedly overlooking crop losses and not extending the farm loan waiver.

The government claimed to have credited the loan waiver amount into the accounts of about 32 lakh farmers and said that the rest will get the benefit at the earliest.

Responding to the opposition’s boycott of the customary tea party, Fadnavis said the opposition is upset over his government’s excellent performance. He said the government has prepared a soft list 54.7lakh beneficiaries for the farm loan waiver and funds have been released for 46.3lakh applicants.

He was accompanied by his cabinet colleagues, while Shiv Sena minister were conspicuous by their absence. BJP’s ally Sena has threatened to go solo in the general elections next year.

“There are 8.37 lakh accounts with discrepancies and banks have asked us to verify them. As many as 2.76 lakh of them have been cleared and the remaining will soon be cross-checked... After verification, all 67 lakh farmers will soon receive the loan waiver amount,” Fadnavis said. He said the district administration has begun disbursing compensation to farmers who suffered losses owing to hailstorm two weeks ago.

Fadnavis said the government has released funds from its own kitty without waiting for help from the Centre for pink bollworm attack.

The government, he said, will unveil Development Control Rules and Development Plan-2034 for Mumbai by March 31.

Govt braces for stormy session as opposition boycotts tea party

Ahead of the budget session of the state legislature on Monday, opposition parties boycotted the customary tea party held by the government, terming it ‘anti farmer’ and ‘deceptive’.

At a press conference held on Sunday, the Congress and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) came together to slam the government for its all-round failure . They also demanded a white paper on ‘Magnetic Maharashtra’ and ‘Make in Maharashtra’, saying that investment and job creating figures claimed by the state government are misleading.

“The government has failed in its ‘Raja Dharma’ (governance), and hence we are seeing farmers’ deaths. Had the government taken some corrective measure, Dharma Patil (the farmer who committed suicide outside the state secretariat) would not have taken such a drastic step,” said Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil, leader of the opposition in the state assembly. “The loan waiver decision was taken in a hurry to pacify the farmers. Even after the waiver, about 2,000 farmers have committed suicide,” said the Congress leader.

Similarly, NCP’s Dhananjay Munde, leader of opposition in the legislative council, said he is yet to meet any farmer, who has benefitted from the loan waiver scheme. “Even Dharma Patil’s family is still struggling to get compensation even after his death,” said Munde. He said the countdown for the government’s ouster has begun and the Opposition would expose it in the session.

Opposition parties also criticised the government over its inability to attract investments. “The Magnetic Maharashtra (an investors summit held from February 18 to 20) was a failure and all the investment figures are misleading,” said Vikhe-Patil.

Over the Bhima-Koregoan caste violence in January, Vikhe-Patil said the unrest was the handiwork of the government. Vikhe-Patil demanded an independent inquiry into the Kamala Mills fire. “The municipal commissioner — who allowed the hotel rooftop policy — is conducting the probe. This is done to protect the guilty,” he said.

The Congress alleged that the government has issued a government resolution to allow appointment of retired officers on special duty, just to rehabilitate Radheshyam Mopalwar, who faced bribery allegations. “This was done to facilitate the return of Mopalwar,” Vikhe-Patil said.

First Published: Feb 26, 2018 00:00 IST