Pro-Vidarbha group terms Rs.10,000 crore package ‘eyewash’


Mumbai : Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti (VJAS), which is lobbying for a separate state of Vidarbha to be carved out of Maharashtra, Thursday dismissed the government’s Rs.10,000 crore economic package for the region as “an eyewash”.

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Chief Minister Ashok Chavan Wednesday had announced the Vidarbha Package aimed at the economic revival of the backward and Maoist-hit eastern Maharashtra to be implemented by 2011.

An amount of Rs.3,094 crore would be spent on completing 20 pending irrigation and water conservation projects and 21 minor projects of a similar kind. This includes projects in Lower Vena (Nagpur district), Purna and Chandrabhaga (Amravati), Utawali (Buldhana), Khadakpurna (Buldana) and Gosikhurd (Bhandara), Chavan announced.

“By fully executing these major projects, we shall bring an additional 57,577 hectares of land under cultivation by June 2010,” Chavan said.

Besides these, the government would invest Rs.1,386 crore on the various measures aimed at combating Maoist violence in the region including construction of five four-lane roads – involving an additional length of 222 km – within two years, Chavan said.

VJAS president Kishor Tiwari in a statement Thursday said: “A careful analysis shows that there is nothing new in the so-called Rs.10,000 crore package, but merely a rejig of the existing schemes that are already under implementation in the region.”

Tiwari said that there is nothing for the families of nearly 7,300 farmers who committed suicide in the past six years, or specific measures to tackle the spectre of drought looming over the already existing agrarian crises in the region.

Other measures Chavan listed are setting up of a ready-made clothes manufacturing estate comprising 600 units, revival of 100 defunct ginning mills, construction of hostels with 1,374 rooms, computer education facilities in 287 upper middle schools, a 100-bed hospitals at Chandrapur and Washim.

Besides these, the government plans to expedite construction of Babasaheb Ambedkar social justice centres in 11 places, constructing 25 new schools for tribals, Rs.27 crore for a MHADA housing complex in Chandrapur, Rs.25.90 crore for fire brigade facilities and setting aside its share of financial allocation for development of 16 cities under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM).

President of Vidarbha Farm Widows Association (VFWA) Bebitai Bais, expressing “disappointment” over the package, said that it was expected that the government would do something for 7,300 widows who are deprived of food and health care, and their children not having resources for education or marriage.

“The hopes of three million distressed farmers in the region, reeling under a drought have been shattered,” said Bais in a statement.