Former Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar (NCP) on Wednesday demanded that the new government come out with a financial package of Rs. 10,000 crore for tackling the drought-like situation in the state and went on to suggest the ruling dispensation to raise more debt.
The debate on the drought-like situation was initiated today after Opposition members relented and the ruling combine agreed to discuss the issue threadbare. Both the Houses of the Legislature had drowned in din yesterday over the issue.
When the House assembled, Congress Deputy group leader Vijay Wadettiwar urged Speaker Haribhau Bagde to admit the notice under section 57 (to suspend the mandatory Question Hour) and take up the discussion on drought and farmer suicides.
Revenue Minister Eknath Khadse informed the House that the government was willing to take up the discussion immediately following which the Speaker allowed it.
Pawar, painting a grim picture of the drought-like situation in the state, said the entire Marathwada region and part of Vidarbha was in the grip of drought and there was a need for providing immediate relief to farmers, especially soya and paddy growers besides milk producers.
“The ruling combine is making a hue and cry about debts to tune of more than Rs three-lakh crore whereas developed nations like United States are also under debt,” Pawar said adding the previous Democratic Front government has availed only 18 per cent of the (debt) limit while the remaining seven per cent can still be availed by the present government.
There is a cap of 25 per cent debt on per capita income.
Pawar said that widows of farmers who ended their lives due to debt and crop failure should be granted pension to overcome financial crisis since the sum of Rs. 1 lakh provided by the government to the family of deceased farmers was inadequate.
He said it was ironical that mineral water bottle was available for Rs. 20 in the market and milk was priced Rs. 17 per litre.
“Milk producers are in dire straits. Milk prices have fallen from Rs. 27 to Rs. 17,” he claimed.