Explain unspent budget: Minister to agriculture commissioner

By Times Of India on 21 Mar 2018 | read
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MUMBAI: Why are budgetary provisions under various schemes for the benefit of farmers not being utilized, agriculture minister Pandurang Fundkar has asked agriculture commissioner Sachindra Pratap Singh in a strongly worded letter. The minister had instructed Singh to personally submit his reply on Monday, but the meeting was postponed to Tuesday as Fundkar was unwell.
In his letter, a copy of which is with TOI, Fundkar said during his official visits across Maharashtra, several farmers complained to him that subsidies announced under various schemes, including drip irrigation and agriculture mechaization, have not reached them. “Since you are the head of the department, you must be taking a stock of the budgetary expenditure. It is unfortunate that despite that, at the end of the year, funds remain unused,” Fundkar wrote. He told Singh to not bring other directors for the meeting. While Fundkar said this was a ‘routine’ process to assess the department’s progress, Singh was not available for comment.

Agriculture sector in the state has been going through a distress phase with less than normal rainfall this year. The economic survey for the year 2017-18, that was recently tabled in the legislature, pegs the growth rate of agriculture and its allied sector at -8.3% as against the ambitious growth rate of 22.5%. There has also been a dip in production of key crops.

After the 2015 drought, the government has been aggressively advocating drip irrigation for effective use of water in farms. State told sugarcane farmers to switch to drip irrigation and offered subsidy to large farmers, who hold more than 5 hectares of land, and marginal farmers, who hold more than 2 hectares of land.

The department has earlier courted controversy over allegations of violations in allotment of drip irrigation subsidy. “There has been poor implementation of popular schemes this year. Farmers are upset,” said a senior official.