NCP chief Sharad Pawar
NCP chief Sharad Pawar
ANI Photo

NCP chief Sharad Pawar on Monday said Maharashtra is facing a "historic economic crisis" and the state government has no option but to take loan to help flood-affected people in the state.

Pawar, who is on a tour of the Marathwada region to review the flood situation, told reporters at Tuljapur in Osmanabad district that a state government cannot do anything alone in a crisis of such magnitude.

Last week, heavy rains and floods claimed at least 48 lives in Pune, Aurangabad and Konkan divisions, while crops on lakhs of hectares were damaged.

As per official information, till Friday, as many as 40,036 people were shifted to safer places in four districts, including over 32,500 in Solapur and over 6,000 in Pune.

"The state has no option but to take loan to help the flood-affected people. The state is facing a historic economic crisis. I will meet the chief minister to discuss the issue," Pawar said.

Osmanabad,Latur, Solpaur, Nanded and Pandharpur (in Solapur) were among the worst-affected places, the former Union agriculture minister said, adding that crops like soyabean, cotton and sugarcane were damaged.

Asked why Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray was not touring the state, Pawar, whose party is a coalition partner in the Maharashtra government, said, "I requested Thackeray to be at one place to do the planning. The administration needs to take decisions by doing proper planning." He said farmers were facing problems with conditions (imposed by banks) for availing crop loan, and land was also destroyed due to floods.

The soil of farms got washed away and even wells, pipelines and houses suffered damages due to the heavy rains, he said.

Pawar also said he will discuss with the state government the issue of restarting sugar factories soon to help the sugarcane farmers.

Asked about BJP's criticism that the state government was looking at the Centre for help and not doing anything, Pawar said, "(Former prime minister) Vajpayee did not see party affiliations when he appointed me head of the disaster management authority because of the work done during the Latur earthquake (in 19923)."

"During a crisis, state and central governments work together. A state government cannot do anything alone in a crisis of such magnitude," he added.

"I have read that the prime minister had a word with the chief minister and has assured that the central government is with the state. We have differences, but when such a calamity arises, we come together," he said.

"We will welcome if (former chief minister) Devendra Fadnavis joins us (in seeking package for farmers' welfare)," he added.

Noting that temples sustain local economy, Pawar also said that he will discuss with Thackeray the demand for reopening places of worship, which have been shut since the last seven months in the wake of COVID-19 outbreak.

On the new farm laws recently enacted by the Centre, Pawar said the market is made open and farmers can now sell their crops anywhere.

"But, the MSP (minimum support price) was earlier decided by the government which is not the case now. If the central government says it is giving MSP, then why it is not included in the law, is the query of farmers," he said.

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Free Press Journal