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Who cornered the funds meant for Maharashtra farmers?

Who cornered the funds meant for Maharashtra farmers?
The death of poor farmers in Maharashtra has attracted a windfall of central funds in the state. Since 2003, the Centre has pumped in a whopping Rs 50,388 crore to end the misery of farmers, but the rising number of farmer suicide cases indicates that their plight is far from improving.

In an exclusive interview to Millennium Post, Union Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh said, “It’s ironical that despite such a huge amount being disbursed by both the Centre and the state to check farmers from taking extreme steps, the number of farmer suicides have gone up instead of coming down in the last 12 years.”

From 2003 to 2014, a total of 1,86,418 farmers took the extreme step across the country. Of these, 41,706 committed suicide in Maharashtra alone. The state was under the Congress-NCP rule during this period. Vilasrao Deshmukh, Sushilkumar Shinde, Ashok Chavan and Prithviraj Chavan were at the helm of affairs in the past 11 years. Also Sharad Pawar was agriculture minister for a considerable part of the UPA tenure.

During this period, the state witnessed an irrigation scam worth Rs 35, 000 crore during 1999-2009, when NCP leader and Sharad Pawar’s nephew Ajit Pawar was the concerned minister in the state.

Taking a dig at erstwhile Congress-NCP government, the Union Agriculture Minister said, “Lots of money has been pumped into the state in the name of irrigation facilities, but water hasn’t reached the land of poor farmers.”

“The state has got a new government, which has identified certain grey areas that need to be addressed urgently. The state government under Devendra Fadanvis is working to provide every possible benefit meant for farmers to them, so that they do not think about ending their lives,” Singh said.

Funds allocated to the state, dubbed as a hot bed of farmers’ suicides, have crossed Rs 40,000-crore mark. The state received a Rs 763-crore grant in 2003 for the development of Vidharbha, a region dubbed as the epicentre of farmers’ suicide in the country. In 2005, Rs 1075 crore was sanctioned to the state to check farmers’ suicide.

In 2006, the then PM Manmohan Singh had sanctioned Rs 3,750 crore to Maharashtra, while another grant of Rs 3,500 was disbursed from the state’s exchequer in the name of Marathwad development the same year. In 2008, Rs 9,868-crore loan of farmers was waived off. The same year, the state extended the loan exemption of Rs 6,000 crore to those farmers who were excluded from of loan waiver scheme.

In 2009, a grant of Rs 5,000 crore was allocated for the development of Marathwada, Rs 5,232 crore for Konkan, Rs 6,500 crore for Khandesh and Rs 1,000 crore for cyclone Phyan-hit farmers. In 2011, Rs 2,000 crore was allocated to provide financial assistance to cotton, paddy and soybean farmers. Also, Rs 1,200 crore was sanctioned for farmers whose crops were damaged due unseasonal rains in 2011, while in 2013 Rs 4,500 crore was given to deal with drought situation in the state.
Dhirendra Kumar

Dhirendra Kumar

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