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Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis says focus on agriculture, capital expenditure

Mumbai(PTI): Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Saturday said that improving agriculture productivity and increasing capital expenditure are the focus areas of his government, which has completed 100 days in power.

“100 days is too short a period to evaluate the performance of a government. You can only judge it by its intentions and we have shown that we are on the right track,” Fadnavis told PTI in an interview.

The state is facing one of its worst drought with 24,000 of the 40,000 villages being affected.

“We have ensured that relief reaches 90 lakh farmers and as long term measures, we have embarked on Jal Yukta Shivar Yojana to make 5000 villages free from drought every year,” he said. The scheme will help farmers improve moisture security and agriculture productivity will be enhanced.

“We will start a scheme of solar pumps for farmers and also create value chain for 14 crops right from seeds, crops to purchase and processing. Due to it, farmers will get good inputs for their seeds and market price.

As per my meetings at the World Economic Forum in Davos, we will be creating value chain for 10 lakh farmers this year and take the number to 25 lakh next year. We want to boost investment in agriculture sector on an everlasting and continuous basis and not just let it remain restricted to providing crop loan,” he added.

Fadnavis also said he had taken steps to reduce the ‘permission regime’ for setting up industry in the state and the investment sentiment is now positive.

“Land allotment and different kinds of permissions have now been fastened and our basic efforts will be to bring in more investment which will create jobs. 50 per cent of our population is under the age of 25. Investments will improve their skills which in turn will boost spending. This will increase demand putting a favourable economic environment. From the taxes generated, we will get money to invest in rural and urban infrastructure.”

The chief minister said the Home department which he is heading is trying to improve conviction rate. “The work orders for the long pending CCTV project have been issued and contracts will be signed soon,” he added.

He said mobile forensic labs will be created at district level. Similarly, several e-initiatives like the web-portal ‘Aaple Sarkar’, right to services act and E-Mojni, an initiative to help farmers with land records are also an attempt by his government to bring in transparency. Fadnavis said transparency will not alone remove corruption.

“The mindset needs to change and we are taking positive action and bringing transparency in institutions.”

Fadnavis said the e-tendering initiative launched by his government is a seamless and fool-proof model.

“Steps like tele medicine to reach medical care to remote areas using technology, approving 20 development plans which were pending for last several years, setting up smart cities and Mumbai’s transformation will take the state in positive direction,” he said.

The chief minister lamented that agriculture growth has been negative in the last two years and his efforts are to see positive growth and then work on improving the production manifold.

When asked about the power situation in the state, Fadnavis said the plant load factor is 50%. The erratic coal supply needs to be efficient and rationalised.

“Due to the recent ordinance, we hope to get coal blocks for Maharashtra. We give lot of cross subsidies to agriculture sector and recover the same from industry. Hence, power is unaffordable to the industry. The installation of five lakh solar pumps will help to reduce agriculture load on the industry. Tariffs can also come down,” he felt.

Replying to a question on his government’s first budget next month, Fadnavis the focus will be to increase capital expenditure.

“Right now, the capital expenditure is not more than Rs 20,000 crore. Our borrowings match with the capital expenditure. If we don’t get quality investment in infrastructure, then there will be no returns to boost the economy. Additional resources need to be created for that purpose,” he said.