Under Maharasthra budget, ₹12K cr for irrigation and ₹600 cr for varsities
Ahead of the elections in October, the government put a thrust on sustainable development of agriculture, with additional provisions and new schemes.
The budget 2019-20 has an outlay of ₹600 crore for agriculture universities for research and infrastructure development, besides an increase in budget for irrigation projects to ₹12,597 crore from last year’s allocation of ₹8,233 crore. It has also widened the scope of its accident insurance scheme to include family members of farmers in the state.
The state has witnessed drought or drought-like situation in three of the past four years making it difficult to sustain the agriculture growth rate. As many as 28,524 villages in 151 tehsils and 268 revenue circles have received rainfall less than the drought parameters in 2018-19.
This has resulted in dismal growth of agriculture to 0.4% in 2018-19, from 3.1% the previous year. The government has spent more than ₹8,900 crore on drought mitigation measures and relief assistance for crop losses.
In the backdrop, the state budget has made an allocation for irrigation projects, research in the agriculture sector and insurance cover to farmers to enable them to face the challenging times. After completing 140 irrigation projects that help in creating additional irrigation potential of 3.87 lakh thousand hectares, the state has announced to complete 26 major incomplete projects under Pradhanmantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana at a cost of ₹22,398 crore. “To ensure the state’s share for projects funded by the Centre, we have made a provision of ₹12,597 crore for water resources department this year. We will not hesitate to make additional funds available if necessary. We are committed to sustainable development of the agricultural sector,” finance minister Sudhir Mungantiwar said.
In his budget speech, the minister also said that successful implementation of the Jal Yukt Shivar programme has helped the government in achieving 26.90 TMC water storage capacity by spending ₹8,946 crore in the past five years.
The government has also announced to widen the scope of insurance cover to farmers dying in accidents. By making an outlay of ₹210 crore, it has extended the cover to family members of farmers. Earlier, it was available to farmers with the names registered on 7/12 extracts. A budgetary provision of ₹200 crore has also been made for four agricultural universities for the research and infrastructure to enable the goal of sustainable agriculture.
The minister announced a ₹2,200-crore scheme to connect farmers directly with bulk purchasers of agricultural products, to set up an agricultural college in Chandrapur to promote agricultural education, additional allocation of ₹100 crore to promote group farming and an outlay of ₹100 crore to help cashew processing industry. A budgetary provision of ₹390 crore has also been made for the Bhavantar Yojana to ensure support price to the farm produce.
The Opposition slammed the government for “failed policies for farm sector”.
“The state government has failed to provide respite to farmers in distress. Big chunk of farmers are deprived of loan waiver, although the government is boasting of having given it to all eligible farmers. Similarly, the profit earned by the crop insurance companies is more than the compensation received by farmers. The budgetary provisions for the farm sector are just hogwash by the government,” said Dhananjay Munde, leader of opposition in legislative