On the occasion of completion of fourth year of Maharashtra’s BJP government, Chief Minister Shri Devendra Fadanvis spoke to Organiser representative Rajesh Prabhu Salgaonkar. Excerpts:
You are completing four years on October 31. First of all Congratulations from the Organiser team. What can you tell about your most significant achievement in the last four years?
My government’s most remarkable achievement is the success of the Jalyukt Shivar scheme (literary means Water-rich Farmlands). The great response this scheme got made it a public movement. Only due to this scheme, which concentrates of the local water conservation and systematic maintenance of water bodies, many areas sustained thru the severe drought conditions this year. Farming also stands on strong foothold due to this scheme. We are successful in bringing much-much more land under the irrigation than the many previous governments. Only due to this scheme, farm produce saw 45% increase. This scheme covered 16 thousand 522 villages with more than half million projects, which created more than 24 lakhs TMC of water storage. Total of 34 lakhs 23 thousand hectors of land has been brought under irrigation due to this single scheme. And this has been achieved with only seven thousand seven hundred crores of rupees!! The public participation in this is Rs.638 crores!!
In the last four years, under the “Farm-lake on Demand” scheme (part of Jalyukt Shivar), one lakh 37 thousand 846 farm-lakes have been built. Thirty thousand more such farm-lakes are under construction. In addition one lakh 55 thousand 839 irrigation wells have been built in the last four years. Total of 15 lakh acres of land has been brought under irrigation with these farm-lakes and irrigation wells.
Due to these all schemes, the farm produce is 150% this year despite the very less rain (- at some places, 38 to 50% less rainfall has been recorded). Mainly the Marathwada region witnessed very less rain. But the farm produce will not decrease due to the water storage created under the Jalyukt Shivar.
At the same time, we could give the farmers the biggest help till date, which is being deposited to their bank accounts directly. More than 47 lakh farmers have been benefitted thru the loan waiver scheme “Chhatrapati Shivaji Shetkari Sanman Yojana”. The farm insurance and natural disaster compensations are being paid directly to the bank accounts of the farmers. The removal of commission agents has benefitted farmers in savings to the tune of Rs.three thousand and hundred crores. The total help under all these schemes to the farmers is of Rs.51 thousand 242 crores. We have doubled the government expenditure on agriculture. We are distributing farming tools and tractors, helping for mechanisation of farming, helping for solar instrumentation in farming, helping for drip and micro-irrigation, constructing more godowns for the farm produce, we are building more cold storages for the perishable farm produce like onions – we are doing much more as a government to make the farming a sustainable business. We are committed to the Modiji’s vision of doubling the farmers’ income.
We have created automatic meteorological centres in each revenue divisions and are planning to increase them. Farmers are being updated about the latest meteorological info and the latest market rates thru SMS. Soil health cards are being distributed.
We have declared the base minimum support prices for all the farm and agricultural produce. Soyabin, onion and toor have been subsidies for the first time. We have stated the Atal Maha Panan Abhiyan (Atal Maharashtra Marketing Mission) connect the markets and also to create new ones for the agricultural produce.
While presenting Jalyukt Shivar concept, you had said that sugarcane cultivation should be restricted.
Sugarcane is a powerful healthy crop. It’s a cash crop too. It can’t be directly restricted without giving alternatives. But we are of the opinion that the sugarcane cultivation in drought-prone and less rainy areas as well as in low water-rich areas should be brought down heavily. My government is pushing to bring all the sugarcane cultivation in the state under drip irrigation in the next two to five years. Government is helping farmers for it. We have ordered all the sugar factories to help their farming members to bring sugarcane cultivation under drip irrigation. But we have observed that no sugar factory is following it, such defaulters will face severe action.
The opposition has started to criticise the Jalyukt Shivar very strongly. How do you see it?
The opposition is following the policy of “Speak Lies Strongly and Loudly”. But they have been exposed time and again. The people of the state are experiencing the Jalyukt Shivar success village after village. People are seeing the truth, experiencing the change. They know what’s correct and what’s wrong. The opposition is now misusing the social media too. We had used the social media very positively, and continue to use it positively. But the level of desperation among the opposition is so high that they are ready to stoop to any low level and spread lies.
Another point s related to this is of negativity of the media. The media is walking the path with the assumption that the “Positive is No News. Only negative is News”. This is wrong, this is bad. The media should concentrate on the positivity.
There had been a lot of allegations about the irrigation scam from the previous government. What is the current status of the investigation?
I would like to bring to your notice that the irrigation scam is being investigated and many accused have been proved guilty and sentenced by the court of law. That proves that the scam existed. Looking at the scale of the scam, we can draw only two conclusions – either the then irrigation minister was involved or he was incompetent to control his department as he allowed this to happen under his nose.
While completing four years, which of your ministers or departments you would say are most successful…?
The cabinet is a team. I would like to say that each senior minister handling major portfolios is doing great. But I feel that there is a need to empower the government corporations more. Some of these are in need of positive changes in their work culture.
You had said in your first interview that the party and administration should remain separate. Are you still firm on this?
Yes, we are firm on this opinion. I would say that we are not communists to integrate party with the administration. That’s the communist model. In a democracy, party and the administration should be separated. And we are the party which believes in and follows the democratic principles. But we want to make the administration more people friendly and I can say that we are broadly successful at this point. The administration is now much more responsive. But still, there is much more remains to do.
How is the financial / budgetary status of the state today?
Maharashtra is in a strong financial position today. For the last many years the budget was of deficits. It may be normal in the welfare system. But we are successful in reversing the trend and achieve budgetary revenue surplus of around two thousand crores without cutting any welfare measures, and still could make double expenditure on agriculture and irrigation, and also could give farm loan waiver. That’s very impressive I think.
The opposition is questioning the government’s action against the Urban Naxal supporters.
We have very-very strong evidence against those Urban Naxal supporters. It has been proved in the court and we are sure the culprits would be sentenced duly. You must know that one Prof.Sai Baba has been proved guilty and sentenced as Urban Naxal supporter. We have many folds stronger pieces of evidence against those who have been booked now. The government is working in the right direction.
The Shiv Sena has taken up the issue of Ram Mandir again. What is your take?
We are happy that the Shiv Sena has taken up the issue of the Ram Mandir. It would help for the building the Ram Mandir faster.
Would the coming Loksabha and Vidhan Sabha elections be fought in alliance with the Shiv Sena?
We are sure to fight the coming Lok Sabha and Vidhan Sabha elections together in alliance. We can say that when we will fight it together, the opposition would be washed away – you may not find any opposition for the namesake. And Hindutva is the binding force between the BJP and Shiv Sena. I am sure that we (BJP and Shiv Sena) will win the coming Lok Sabha and Vidhan Sabha elections as the people of the state are watching and experiencing our work.