Maharashtra Budget: Massive Relief With Electricity Waivers, Solar Initiatives And Modernisation For Farmers

Maharashtra Budget: Massive Relief With Electricity Waivers, Solar Initiatives And Modernisation For Farmers

Under Jalyukt Shivar Abhiyan-2, 49,651 works have been completed, with a Rs. 650 crore provision for the year.

RUCHA KANOLKARUpdated: Saturday, June 29, 2024, 01:36 AM IST
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Representative Image | File

Mumbai: Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar presented the state budget with the theme "Self-reliant Farmers, Prosperous Farmers". Budget includes schemes for direct seed subsidies, irrigation facilities, modern tech, ancillary industries, value addition to produce, and improved storage and market availability. The budget highlights include free electricity for farmers, milk subsidy and solar power project for uninterrupted daytime electricity.

Ajit Pawar announced a significant relief measure for the state's farmers. Under the Mukhya Mantri Baliraja Vij Savlat Yojana, the government will waive off electricity bill dues for a total of 44.06 lakh farmers. Additionally, the government will bear the cost of agriculture pumps up to 7.5 horsepower capacity, providing a massive subsidy of Rs. 14,761 crores. This decision was taken in response to the recent drastic changes in seasonal weather patterns and global climate change, which have had a significant impact on the state's agricultural sector.

A Rs. 15,000 crore project has been undertaken to separate and solarize agricultural electricity grids, aiming to provide uninterrupted daytime electricity to farmers. The "Magel Tyala Solar Power Pump" scheme will provide solar power pumps to 8.50 lakh farmers, offering free electricity.

One of the budget's significant highlights is the allocation of Rs. 15,245.76 crores to compensate farmers for crop losses due to natural calamities since July 2022. Notably, Rs. 2,253 crores were distributed to 24.74 lakh farmers affected by unseasonal rains in November-December 2023, with the area limit for relief increased from two to three hectares. While this increase in compensation is beneficial, the long-term sustainability of such payouts remains questionable.

The government has declared drought in 40 talukas and a drought-like situation in 1,021 revenue circles for the Kharif season 2023, providing various concessions for these areas. The e-punchnama system, successfully tested in the Nagpur division for quick and transparent loss assessment, will be replicated statewide. 

The "Namo Shetkari Mahasanman Nidhi Yojana" has paid Rs. 5,318.47 crores to 92.43 lakh farmer families to date. The One Rupee Crop Insurance Scheme has disbursed Rs. 3,504.66 crores to 59.57 lakh farmers, and Rs. 52.82 crores have been allocated to 2,694 farmer families under the "Gopinath Munde Shetkari Suraksha Sanugraha Anudan Yojana." 

Incentives for farmers who repay crop loans under the "Mahatma Jyotirao Phule Shetkari Karjmukti Yojana" amount to Rs. 5,190 crores, benefiting 14.33 lakh farmers. The remaining funds are to be disbursed immediately. 

The budget highlights the completion of projects worth Rs. 5,469 crores in the first phase of the “Nanaji Deshmukh Krishi Sanjivani Prakalp '' across 16 districts of Vidarbha and Marathwada. The second phase, costing Rs. 6,000 crores, will expand to 21 districts. Additionally, the Balasaheb Thackeray Agro-business and Rural Transformation Project has sanctioned 767 sub-projects worth Rs. 1,561.64 crores, aiming to benefit around 9 lakh farmers.

Orange ration card holder farmers in 14 disaster-affected districts of Vidarbha and Marathwada have received Rs. 113.36 crores in cash payments by May 2024, in lieu of food grains. Additionally, Rs. 1,239 crores in subsidies have been provided to 2.14 lakh farmers over the last three years for purchasing mechanized agricultural equipment.

The new “Gaon tethe Godam” scheme plans to construct 100 new godowns and repair existing ones for village-level agricultural produce storage. Additionally, a special action plan with a Rs. 341 crore provision aims to increase productivity and develop the value chain for cotton, soybean, and other oilseeds. A Rs. 100 crore revolving fund for purchasing pulses and oilseeds through NAFED during the kharif and rabi seasons is another noteworthy initiative.

Financial assistance of Rs. 5,000 per hectare, limited to two hectares, has been announced for cotton and soybean farmers during the Kharif marketing season 2023-24. Similarly, onion farmers received a subsidy of Rs. 851.66 crores at a rate of Rs. 350 per quintal, and revolving funds of Rs. 200 crores each have been created for assured purchase of onion and cotton.

The government plans to launch a “Dairy Business Entrepreneurship Project” to create new entrepreneurs in animal husbandry, dairy farming, and related fields. Rs. 223.83 crores have been distributed as subsidies to 2.93 lakh registered milk producers at Rs. 5 per liter, and this subsidy will continue from July 2024. Additionally, the share capital of the “Punyashlok Ahilya Devi Holkar Maharashtra Sheep and Goat Development Corporation” has been increased, and new projects to promote goat-sheep and poultry rearing will be implemented.

The budget also addresses fish production, with adequate funds allocated for establishing fish markets and selling facilities. The Atal Bambu Samriddhi Yojana plans to plant bamboo on 10,000 hectares of private land, providing a subsidy of Rs. 175 per plant. Bamboo will also be planted on a large scale on wasteland, starting with 1.20 lakh acres in Nandurbar district.

Compensation for losses due to wild animal attacks and crop damage has been significantly increased. The government has also undertaken a special campaign to complete pending irrigation projects, with 108 projects receiving revised administrative approval and 61 expected to be completed within two years. The Maharashtra Irrigation Improvement Program aims to bridge the gap between installed and actual irrigation capacity, improving canal distribution systems and benefiting 4.28 lakh hectares over the next three years.

A pilot solar power project in Sangli district aims to reduce electricity costs for lift irrigation schemes, benefiting around 75,000 farmer families. Additionally, all government irrigation schemes will be solarized to promote clean energy, with an estimated expenditure of Rs. 4,200 crores.

The Vainganga-Nalganga interlinking project plans to divert water from the Gosi Khurd project to provide irrigation benefits to 3,71,277 hectares in Vidarbha. The World Bank-aided Maharashtra Responsive Development Program, costing Rs. 3,200 crores, aims to prevent floods in Kolhapur and Sangli districts and divert excess water to drought-affected areas.

Under Jalyukt Shivar Abhiyan-2, 49,651 works have been completed, with a Rs. 650 crore provision for the year. The “Galmukt Dharan, Gal yukt Shiwar” scheme, which removes silt from reservoirs, has so far removed 83,39,818 cubic meters of silt through public participation.

While the budget promises extensive support and development for Maharashtra's agriculture and allied sectors, its success will heavily depend on effective implementation, timely disbursements, and addressing underlying systemic issues faced by farmers.

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