Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Thursday announced a total relief package of Rs.7,000 crore for the State’s debt-hit farmers.
Announcing the relief in both Houses of Maharashtra Legislature here, he also said the Government will “take over” the private loans of around 5,00,000 farmers mainly in Vidarbha and Marathwada, the worst affected regions of the State reeling under a severe drought. “We shall prepare a detailed plan on this aspect and shall ensure that the farmers can avail of institutional finance, as loans are the major cause of suicides,” Fadnavis said.
The farmers in these regions would also be entitled to waiver of electricity bills for three months, besides restructuring of existing farm loans, he said.
An amount of Rs 3,925 crore will be spent for the drought-hit farmers in around 20,000 villages and the Government proposes to make 5,000 villages “drought-free” within a year, he added. A Central team will arrive here on December 14-15 for an assessment of the drought situation in the State following the Government’s demand for a suitable aid package.
Last month, the State Government had demanded a Central aid of Rs.4,000 crore for the drought hit regions where over 1,400 farmers have committed suicide in the past six months.
Meanwhile, the Opposition Congress and Nationalist Congress Party criticized the aid package terming it as inadequate and lacking clarity on many aspects.
Highlights of the package:
• Announcing the package, the Chief Minister Fadnavis said “no calamity is natural but manmade.” Immediate help will not work. Problem will persist. Irrigation facility will have to be increased manifold.
• Fadnavis vowed to make the State free of drought by 2019.
• In the next five years, 5 lakh solar pumps will be provided to farmers. Electricity will be provided at an appropriate time.
• Micro irrigation scheme’s pending dues of Rs 450 crore will be paid at one go. Rs 300 crore to be spent on micro irrigation this year.
• Decision to bring sugarcane farming under micro irrigation scheme to be taker after joint meeting of Ruling and Opposition members.
• In view of present drought situation, the State Agriculture Minister and Chief Secretary to be sent to Delhi for declaring drought in future.
• Faulty transformers to be replaced immediately and capacity to be increased.
• The crop loans worth Rs 910 crore taken from Central Co-operative Banks will be paid by State Government.
• To free farmers from clutches of illegal money-lenders, the Government will pay loans of farmers taken from authorized money-lenders and cooperative banks. Farmers can lodge complaints with police stations against illegal money-lenders. Government will take tough action on the complaints.
• Provision of Rs 400 crore for drinking water for the next six months. 3000 tankers to supply water during monsoon season.
• Government is giving crop insurance to 11 lakh farmers out of 13 lakh following losses. Insurance companies are paying Rs 230 crore.
• Krishi Sanjivani Scheme has been extended till March 2015.