Kolhapur: On a tour of the flood-stricken areas in Sangli and Kolhapur, the Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar has said it is time for the state to come up with permanent, viable measures to prevent floods and other disasters. Pawar said it was time to take bold steps.
"I remember announcing the construction of one lakh houses that were destroyed in the devastating earthquake which occurred in Latur in 1993. We need to take more steps like these. We may also need to shift certain villages in order to save lives," said Pawar. He admitted that the 2005 floods are no more the benchmark and everyone seemed to have erred in assessing the floods this year. Further, he demanded a complete crop loan waiver for farmers affected by the recent deluge in western Maharashtra.
He also sought fresh sowing credit for affected farmers, in the aftermath of the unprecedented floods that have damaged crops on several thousand hectares in the region. "Sugarcane crop on thousands of hectares has been completely destroyed. But loans taken by farmers from cooperative societies will remain. Therefore, we will urge the government to grant a complete loan waiver for the current year. We demand that a fresh crop loan be granted so that agriculturists can undertake cultivation in affected fields," said the former union agriculture minister.
Pawar said the erstwhile UPA government had waived farm loans to the tune of "Rs 70,000 crore" and that too when there was no immediate crisis. "If the debt of farmers was written off that time, why can't it be done now? This crisis is unprecedented and worse than the 2005 deluge. This time, even houses at the higher altitude suffered inundation and damage," he said.