The report from the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India on the economic sector in Maharashtra reveals that farmers in the state have been suffering due to under-utilisation of farmer funds, poor irrigation and shortfall of seeds. The report released last week has audited the period between 2013 and 2018.
The report highlights that there was shortfall in the supply of seeds as compared to the total requirement of seeds in the state. The seed production chain in the state was adversely affected which was more severe in case of soyabean seed, resulting in shortage in availability of quality certified seeds to the farmers.
It is evident that during 2014-15, 2015-16 and 2017-18 the total seed supplied was less than the requirement. In 2017-18, the state required 24,65,302 quintals, but there was a shortage of 1,04,561 quintals. This meant that the farmers had to depend on the private companies and producers or their own seeds to meet out their demand for seeds.
Additionally, the seeds which were not notified were distributed to the farmers resulting in lesser yields. This affected the seed production chain in the state.
Corruption in Irrigation programmes
With Maharashtra being one of the drought prone states, there are several initiatives to improve the irrigation in the state. Micro Irrigation (MI) system, which are drip and sprinkler systems and Accelerated Irrigation Benefit Programme are two such programmes.
Non-use of funds meant for SC/ST farmers
In another instance, the CAG report points towards a deprivation and non-use of funds released for farmers belonging to SC and ST categories. The report observes that grants meant for SC and ST categories by the Centre under Micro Irrigation schemes, could not be utilized and as a result, the funds had to be surrendered. It was noticed that against the grants of ₹187.46 crore released for SC and ST categories during the years 2013-18, ₹39.78 crore was only utilised and ₹113.74 crore was surrendered. This points towards a 21% utilisation of the funds.
This under-utilisation of funds comes at a time when there has been a rise in farmer distress in Maharashtra due to collapse of government schemes, delayed monsoons and crop failure.
Accelerated Irrigation Benefit Programme
Since the inception of Accelerated Irrigation Benefit Programme (AIBP), 68 major and minor projects were included under this, of which 39 projects were completed prior to March 2013. Out of the remaining 29 projects, five were completed during 2013-18 leaving 24 projects ongoing as on March 2018.
The total funds received under AIBP were ₹11,541.58 cr, during 2013-18 against which expenditure incurred was ₹10,865.81 cr. Maharashtra delayed request for recovery of ₹90.08 crore towards construction and operation cost of Tillari Major Irrigation Project from Goa since 2013-14.
Out of 18 test checked projects in audit, 16 were not completed within the timeline given leading to a cost overrun of ₹7,486.50 crore.
Pointing towards mismanagement and corruption at all levels, the report highlights that evenrecords related todistribution of agriculturalinputs to farmers were not maintained. This meant that CAG could not ascertain the beneficiaries to whom the inputs were distributed and whether they were distributed timely.