Maharashtra

  • Farmer delegations meet Sonia Gandhi

    Seeking relief: UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi listens to the grievances of farmers from Haryana, Rajasthan and Maharashtra at her residence in New Delhi on Thursday. Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Thursday assured delegations of farmers from Haryana, Rajasthan and Maharashtra that she would convey their budgetary demands to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Finance Minister P. Chidambaram. The delegations sought waiver of farmers' debts, reduction in interest rates on loans, remunerative prices for farm produce, health insurance for farm families and crop insurance. They highlighted the high costs of inputs, crop losses on account of calamities (Rajasthan delegation spoke about the heavy damage to mustard crop from frost), lack of adequate power and poor quality of seeds. Among those who formed part of the delegations were S.S. Surjewala, Ashok Gehlot and Mukul Wasnik. On Friday, farmers' representatives have convened an emergency meeting of the National Council of the organisation of farmers and farm labour to discuss the financial and social problems of farmers. They will finalise a charter of demands to be sent to the Prime Minister.

  • BoA clears 14 new SEZs

    The Board of Approval (BoA) of the Special Economic Zones (SEZs) on Monday cleared 14 new proposals, including ten formal approvals. While two SEZs each have been cleared in Tamil Nadu and Rajasthan, one each will come up in Maharashtra, Haryana, Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat. The BoA granted formal approvals to two SEZs of the State Industries Promotion Corporation of Tamil Nadu Ltd. (SIPCOT), one for transport engineering goods at Tirunelveli and another of automobile and auto ancillary at Thiruvannamalai. Similarly, two SEZs of Mahindra Worldcity (Jaipur) Ltd. of handicrafts and light engineering at Jaipur were given formal approvals. Other SEZs cleared include an information technology SEZ by Videocon Realtors and Infrastructure Ltd. at Jalpaiguri in West Bengal, IT SEZ by Devbhumi Realtors Pvt. Ltd. at Ranga Reddy District in Andhra Pradesh, pharmaceuticals SEZ by JB SEZ Pvt. Ltd. at Panoli in Gujarat and Power SEZ by Wardha Power Company at Chandrapur in Maharashtra. According to Commerce Secretary G. K. Pillai, who also heads the Board of Approval, so far formal approvals have been granted for setting up of 439 SEZs out of which 201 have been notified as on date. The Commerce Secretary said that over Rs. 67,347 crore had been invested in these notified SEZs, giving direct employment to 97,478 persons, which is in addition to the employment provided to 1.83 lakh persons by the seven Central Government established SEZs.

  • Osram to distribute cheaper CFLs in three states

    For promoting usage of energy saving compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) in the country, leading lamp manufacturer Osram will distribute more than 2 million CFL units to poor families in Mahrashtra, Haryana and Andhra Pradesh. A unit of CFL will cost around Rs 10- 15 while actual cost of the unit is around Rs 300. Osram has already carried out the ground works for the project, which is expected launched over the next few weeks. "We have signed MoUs with respective state electricity boards and the project would be financed through carbon credit generated through the clean development mechanism (CDM) under United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC),' Gagan Mehra, managing director of Osram India told FE. However the company is yet to decide volume of carbon credit needed for the implementation of the project. Osram model for CDM is an arrangement under the Kyoto protocol for reducing CO2 emission in the lighting industry. The company in collaboration with state electricity boards will distribute special CFL bulbs with a longevity of 15 thousands hours amongst the poorer section of the population. "We have identified as present districts such as Visakhapatanam in Andhra Pradesh, Sonepat and Yamuna Nagar in Haryana and Pune in Maharashtra for distribution of CFL units and gradually the programme would include other districts in the state,' Mehra said. Osram would be importing most of the components of the CFLs to be distributed in the three states and it would be assembled at the Sonepat plant of the company. "As the project would be in operation for seven to 10 years in three states, after two years of implementation, we plan to manufacturer the CFLs at our plant,' Mehra said. Mehra admitting that despite the low energy consumption by CFLs, the disposal of these bulbs has been a key issue. "All the manufacturers of CFLs are working out a strategy for proper disposals of these bulbs with the Electricity Lamp and Components Manufacturers Association of India (ELCOMA),' he said.

  • Loan waiver: "worst affected farmers rendered ineligible'

    Delivering the Third Sumitra Chishti Memorial Lecture here on Monday, The Hindu Rural Affairs Editor, P. Sainath, methodically demolished the "historical and unprecedented' Union budgetary farmer loan waiver stating that the worst affected farmers were rendered ineligible as they possessed more than the stipulated two hectare land holdings. "In Vidharbha, over 50 per cent of land holdings are over 7.5 acres [around 3 hectares] and of the remaining 50 per cent, 25 per cent have restricted access to banks. There is nothing in the budget that increases the income of farmers or stabilises prices,' he said. Agrarian crisis Speaking on the agrarian crisis, the Magsaysay Award winner said over 1.5 lakh farmers had committed suicide in the past five years. A farmer killed himself every 30 minutes and the number of such suicides had increased from 15,000 a year between 1997 and 2001 to 17,000 a year in the 2002-06 period. "Just like each case of child labour has a personal history behind it, every farmer suicide had a multiplicity of causes. But the larger canvas or backdrop that leads to such suicides is common and stems from certain undeniable causes.' Enumerating these causative factors, Mr. Sainath said there had been a transfer of funds from the poor to the rich, an unprecedented growth of the corporate sector and gross undermining of local sovereignty and governance. "Farming has been rendered so unviable at the small-scale level that there are not many takers for it and the relentless drive towards corporate farming has just hastened the demise of the small farm not just in India but the world over,' said the eminent journalist.

  • Waiver: Pawar begins scoring political points

    BUDGET 2008-09 IMPACT The Rs 60,000 crore loan waiver for farmers announced in this year's Budget is being projected as a major achievement of Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar in his stronghold and sugar cane country western Maharashtra. The minister has unleashed a blitzkrieg of advertisements of his Nationalist Congress Party, addressing sugar cane farmers there. On the other hand, Congress leaders in the party stronghold of Vidarbha are on the defensive, even as farmer groups are openly saying that Pawar engineered the package to weaken the Congress in Vidarbha. The political sub-plot to the waiver has once again added to the agony of the dryland farmers who were earlier denied a waiver when the prime minister announced a relief package. The waiver benefits sugar cane and horticulture crops vastly, while the benefits for cotton farmers and those doing unirrigated farming are minimal. For, while loan available for dryland farming is Rs 4,000 an acre, it is Rs 50,000 for irrigated farming, which sugar cane farmers do. Hence the waiver will be a lottery for farmers in western Maharashtra and in Pawar's constituency of Baramati. The advertisements seek to drive the point home. The full page advertisements appearing in Marathi newspapers on March 1, with several pictures of Pawar, trumpet home the fact that the waiver is meant to benefit the sugar cane and horticulture farmers of western Maharashtra rather than the cotton farmers of Vidarbha. Pawar's advertisements in newspaper Sakal's Nagpur edition, for instance, talk about how loans for tractors will be waived. The advertisements in Lokmat and Tarun Bharat, which appeared on March 1, also splashed Pawar's picture and highlighted the waiver saying that loans for pipes, wells, tractors and buying of cattle would be waived. The Sakal advertisement, which says

  • Why loan waiver won't stop farmer deaths

    MOUNDHALA (BULDANA): His clothes remind me of him,' wails Leelabai, clutching a bundle of clothes in front of the dilapidated structure she calls home, as younger sister Kalabai wipes away her tears

  • Rs 25,000 crore in State's kitty

    A plan of Rs 25,000 crore for Maharashtra for the year 2008-09 was on Wednesday approved by the Planning Commission at a meeting in New Delhi. The approval was given during today's meeting of Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh with Planning Commission deputy chairman Dr M S Ahluwalia. This year's plan is Rs 4,800 crore higher than the previous year, an official release said here. The Planning Commission expressed satisfaction over the performance shown by the state government in various sectors and the formation of the minority welfare department in the state. The chief minister had demanded allocation of Rs 210 crore for Youth Commonwealth Games scheduled to be held in October at Pune. He had also demanded Rs 400 crore for the Mithi river beautification project. Complimenting the State on satisfactory growth rate and fiscal performance, Ahluwalia said Maharashtra was poised to exceed the projected national average growth rate of nine per cent for the 11th Plan (2007-12). He, however, stressed the need to improve urban infrastructure, irrigation and agriculture during the Plan. He further said the Centre was keen to improve connectivity with Mumbai. Also, the Western Freight Corridor Construction Work was likely to begin this year. He also drew the attention of the state towards depleting forest cover, rural poverty and child sex ratio. It was pointed out that state needed to step up efforts in the power sector for encouraging investment.

  • State will spare no efforts to help farmers, says Patil

    In a massive propaganda drive to claim credit for the 60000 crore loan waiver, NCP which is the alliance partner in the state said that the government was ready to share any additional burden, if so directed by the Centre, to provide further succour to distressed farmers in Vidarbha region. Addressing a mammoth farmers' rally, organised by the NCP here, Deputy Chief Minister R R Patil on Wednesday said the state government would 'fulfil any responsibility' that the Centre gave it while increasing the relief to farmers. Describing as 'historic' the decision to waive loans of farmers holding up to five acres of land, Patil said the state had requested the union government to initiate measures that would benefit more farmers. The state government would seriously consider granting loan waiver to small artisans like cobblers, ironsmiths and carpenters, living in villages, who also had a debt burden but had not benefited from the waiver for farmers, he said. The Deputy Chief Minister, who also holds the Home portfolio, said he had given 15 days for all private money lenders to return all goods and land pledged by hapless cultivators to them to get loans. The police would take strict action against such money lenders afterwards if they did not comply with the instructions, he said. Admitting that the milch cattle given to farmers under the relief packages had become a 'burden' for the beneficiaries since they did not know where to sell the milk, Patil said it was necessary to train these farmers to help them market the output and earn a profit thereon. Patil said government would increase the grant under the Sanjay Gandhi Niradhar Yojana and extend concessions to women's self-help groups (SHG's) to provide succour to the downtrodden Nearly four crore farmers in Maharashtra would benefit from the loan waiver announced by the Centre, Patil said. Saying that the pains of cultivators in Western Maharashtra and in Vidarbha were different, he said farmers in Vidarbha had to battle an unfavourable nature on top of the debt burden. Patil assured that the state government would provide all the funds necessary to ensure that the ambitious Gosikhurd project, which is expected to irrigate 1.90 lakh hectares of land in Nagpur, Bhandara and Chandrapur districts, was completed in the next 4 years. Addressing the gathering, Minister for Water Resources Ajit Pawar said his department had asked the Finance Department to allocate more than Rs 3,000 crore in the forthcoming state budget for completion of various irrigation schemes in Vidarbha, including medium and large projects, canals and lift irrigation projects. Union Minister of State for Civil Aviation Praful Patel said a request had been made to the Prime Minister to initiate measures to provide succour to more farmers. ''We are happy, but not satisfied with the loan waiver. We should not stop here,'' he said. The government must take steps to help farmers holding more than five acres of land, he said. The Government of Maharashtra must also help in this direction, he added. Earlier, Maharashtra Minister for Public Works Anil Deshmukh said the rally was being held to express thanks to Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh, Union Minister for Finance P Chidambaram and Minister for Agriculture Sharad Pawar for the historic decision of loan waiver for farmers.

  • Maharashtra's annual Plan fixed at Rs 25,000 cr

    The Plan outlay of Maharashtra for 2008-09 has been pegged at Rs 25,000 crore inclusive of additional Central Assistance of Rs 250 crore for projects of special interest to the State. This was agreed at a meeting between the Deputy Chairman Planning Commission, Mr Montek Singh Ahluwalia, and the Chief Minister of Maharashtra, Mr Vilasrao Deshmukh, here today. In his opening remarks, Mr Ahluwalia said performance in both human development and growth rate of the State was satisfactory as it is all set to achieve growth rate above national target for the Eleventh Plan. Against 3.8 per cent growth rate in Ninth Plan, the State has recorded growth of 8.2 per cent in the Tenth Plan. Improving urban infrastructure, housing, irrigation and agriculture should be given priority during the Eleventh Plan. He said the Commission was keen to improve performance of centrally sponsored programmes and invited suggestions on flexibility needed in the guidelines of these programmes.

  • Oh! What a lovely waiver

    Karza maafi or voter maafi?: File picture of the relatives of a farmer who committed suicide due to mounting debt last year.