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Maharashtra Government’s Rs. 150 crore Package for Subsidy, A Jumla?

Instead of an outlay of Rs. 1500 crore, the government has only earmarked Rs. 150 crore for the protesting onion farmers.
Onion farmers

Representational Image. | Image Courtesy: Live Mint

Following Modi’s brand of politics and Jumlas, the Devendra Fadnavis government is coming up with its own. The state cabinet on Thursday approved a Rs. 150 crore budget to enable the payment of Rs. 200 per quintal to the protesting onion farmers.

The state government declared, "The decision will be applicable in the case of all onions sold between November 1 and December 15 in all the APMC (Agricultural Produce Marketing Committee) markets except Navi Mumbai. The maximum relief will be given on 200 quintals of onion sold for a farmer, which means the distressed farmer will at least get Rs. 40,000 amount in their account”

The Maharashtra government’s “relief package” of Rs. 150 crore was a move that can be branded as one that is too little, too late, given the series of agitations against the state government gaining momentum. The onion farmers bearing the brunt of agrarian distress have been compelled to sell fresh onions at Rs. 1/kg in the Nashik wholesale market.

Also Read: Nearly Half of Maharashtra to Face Severe Water Crisis in 2018-19

The pittance of an increase by the Maharashtra government is being viewed as a mockery of the farmers’ pain by many. Speaking with NewsClick, Ashok Dhawale of the All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS), said, “The state government has declared that it will give Rs. 200 per quintal subsidy for onions sold by farmers only from November 1 to December 15, which is the real catch in this situation. So, the real question is the farmers who sold their produce earlier and the ones who sold it after will not get any relief. The farmer fraternity has alleged that not many had sold onions between November 1 and December 15, since the prices were crashing.” He added, “According to our calculations, instead of an outlay of Rs. 1500 crore, the government has only earmarked Rs. 150 crore for this subsidy.”

Maharashtra onion farmers have made their dissatisfaction with the token amount amply clear and have demanded the help of Rs. 500- Rs. 800 per quintal. Opposition parties have also supported the farmers’ demand. The farmers have made it clear that they will be continuing with the agitation demanding substantial help. Moreover, the grant should continue till the average wholesale onion prices crosses Rs. 1,000 per quintal in the wholesale market.

After the infamous incident, when a farmer from Nashik sent a money order for Rs. 1,064 to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to draw his attention to the crisis being faced by onion farmers, a delegation of farmers from the district had met Modi. However, no substantial conclusions could be drawn from that meeting.

Several reasons have led to the steep fall in the prices of the onions crash, from hoarding of summer onions to reduced demand from nearby states like Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka.

In the 45 days from November 1 to December 15, 75 lakh quintals of onion were brought to AMPCs (Agricultural Produce Marketing Committees) across the state. Farmers who sent these onions are eligible for relief.

Read More: Maharashtra Witnesses Rise in Farmer Suicides, 696 cases in 3 months

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