NCP chief Sharad Pawar on Wednesday demanded the government to grant complete crop loan waiver and pitched for providing residences to those who have lost their shelters in flood-ravaged Western Maharashtra.
He also sought low interest loans for the affected farmers for fresh sowing in the aftermath of unprecedented floods that have damaged crops on several thousand hectares in the region.
Pawar said he will meet Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis to discuss the situation in the flood-affected areas.
The NCP patriarch also said that there was no need to postpone the Assembly polls, due in September-October, due to the damage caused by floods.
MNS chief Raj Thackeray had recently demanded postponing the polls to next year considering the largescale devastation especially in Sangli and Kolhapur districts.
"There is no need to postpone the polls. This is an issue of three districts. I don't think it is a practical consideration to postpone the elections of entire Maharashtra for the crisis in three districts," said Pawar.
The former Union agriculture minister said, "Sugarcane crop on thousands of hectares has been completely destroyed. But loans taken by farmers from cooperative societies will remain. Therefore, we will urge the government to grant a complete loan waiver for the current year. We demand that a fresh crop loan be granted so that agriculturists can undertake cultivation in affected fields".
Pawar was addressing a gathering at Kavathesar village in Shirol taluka of Kolhapur district, which was worst-hit along with Sangli, after reviewing the situation.
Pawar said the erstwhile UPA government had waived farm loans to the tune of "Rs 70,000 crore" and that too when there was no immediate crisis.
"If debt of farmers was written off that time, why can't it be done now? This crisis is unprecedented and worse than the 2005 deluge. This time, even houses at the higher altitude suffered inundation and damage," he said.
Pawar said the sugarcane crop was damaged due to excessive water-logging in fields.
"Even soybean crop was damaged. Now, factories will decide what to do with the destroyed sugarcane. As sugarcane crop is completely damaged, then it is better to plant fresh sugarcanes. In that case, factories will arrange payment for seedlings," he added.
Pawar also said the Opposition will ask the government to build new houses for the people whose houses got damaged.
He said landless farm labourers should be provided work immediately.
Addressing reporters later, Pawar said the government should undertake a programme to give new residences to those who lost their shelters in the floods or to those whose homes have developed cracks.
He cited example of how the Maharashtra government led by him had undertaken a similar programme to provide residences to people from earthquake-hit Latur district in 1993.
Five districts in western Maharashtra--Sangli, Kolhapur, Pune, Satara and Solapur--were affected by floods and heavy rains.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)