Show courage to borrow for the succor of cyclone-affected people

Fadnavis’ ‘friendly’ warning to CM Uddhav Thackeray

Mumbai: Former Chief Minister and incumbent Leader of Opposition (LoP) in Legislative Assembly Devendra Fadnavis is not happy with a mere Rs 100 crore immediate package announced by the Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray to provide relief to ‘Nisarga’ cyclone-affected people of Raigad district which is worse affected. Giving a ‘friendly’ suggestion and said Thackeray should stop crying foul against Centre instead should borrow loan from open market to help cyclone-affected people of the state.

The ‘Nisarga’ cyclone has badly affected the Konkan region, especially the Raigad district. The Chief Minister during his visit on Friday to the cyclone-affected Raigad district, had announced an immediate relief of Rs 100 crore in a review meeting. Balasaheb Thorat, minister for revenue has given order of panchanma of the loss. 

According to reports, the cyclone has destroyed kaccha houses, mango and coconut trees, electric poles and other things. Several trees were uprooted and in some cases bringing the houses down along with them and electric poles were also uprooted. The panchanma by revenue staff is expected to be completed within the next few days.

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LoP Devendra Fadnavis, recalled what the erstwhile Bharatiya Janata Party-Shiv Sena coalition government that he had led did while tackling the flood situation in Kolhapur, Sangli and Satara district in August last year.

Fadnavis said, “During natural calamity, it is the duty of the government to provide direct relief to the affected people. We cannot fully rely on what the National Disaster Relief Fund (NDRF) provides to the affected people. We have to give beyond the norms of NDRF relief from state’s own exchequer.”

He said that it is the practice states have to spend fund from the State Disaster Relief Fund (SDRF) and submit the expenses to NDRF to compensate for the same amount. However, in some situation, the state has to spend more than what is beyond the limit of NDRF and SDRF.

“The people from Konkan, North Maharashtra are worst affected by Nisarg cyclone. There is need to waive off the current loan taken by the people in the affected area,” said Fadnavis and added, however, loan waiver scheme does not benefit people of Konkan as they do have a tendency to borrow loan from banks. Again they are punctual to pay the debt in time. In this situation, the state has to give them three times more financial assistance than stated in standard orders of the NDRF.

Fadnavis reminded Thackeray that the union government has given its nod to borrowing of Rs 75,000 crore in a single phase. Earlier, the union government allowed borrowing between Rs 6000 crore to Rs 7000 crore per month. Now, it is a good opportunity. “Apart from this Rs 75,000 crore loan, the state can borrow an additional Rs 50,000 crore as we have the fiscal space to raise the loan. If CM or the government will not dare to borrow the loan, then he cannot help the people,” said Fadnavis.

“Suppose, the current pandemic situation will remain for next six months and if we will not get revenue from Goods and Service Tax (GST), will the government stay idle and will not do anything for the people?” Fadnavis raised the question.

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He reiterated that the GST council has decided to extend the compensation period from five years to seven years. “This additional two years will be sufficient to bring states economy on track,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray will hold a meeting with guardian ministers of Raigad and Ratnagiri to take a review of loss due to Nisarga cyclone. Thackeray is likely to announce an additional package for the cyclone-affected people.

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