MVA government like a three-wheeler? They are extremely useful for the common man, quips Balasaheb Thorat
Asked to comment on BJP’s jibe of the MVA Government resembling a wobbly three-wheeler, Balasaheb Thorat says 3-wheelers are useful for the common man
The decision to reduce stamp duty in Maharashtra by three percent had taken observers by surprise. At a time when state governments were struggling for revenue and the economy was in a shambles in the wake of the pandemic, it seemed like a reckless gamble.
But the decision has paid off, points out the state’s Revenue Minister Balasaheb Thorat with a smile. Registration of property recorded a sharp hike of 48 percent in the first four months of the financial year over the same period last year. This resulted in a revenue of Rs. 367 crore to the state. The reduction also gave a fillip to construction activities, reeling after the pandemic, points out the minister.
The soft spoken Thorat is rarely rattled. Asked to comment on the Bharatiya Janata Party’s jibe that the three-party coalition in the state, Maha Vikas Aghadi, was a three-wheeler which would skid and turn turtle sooner than later, he responds with more smile. Three-wheelers, he quips, have been very useful for the common man.
Having won eight consecutive elections to the Maharashtra Assembly from Sangamner constituency in Ahmednagar district, the senior Congress leaders wears his electoral record lightly. In 1985, Thorat was first elected as an independent candidate. But thereafter he won the seat for the Congress each time.
As revenue minister, his record is impressive. Indeed, post-Covid Maharashtra has the distinction of collecting the highest revenue in the country. The department has been completely digitalized. Not only all ownership record but also details of crops have been computerized. A portal to facilitate farmers, Mahabhumi, was developed with assistance from the Tata Trust and a mobile app E-Peek Pahani has been developed for farmers. The app helps farmers to survey the crops, make panchnama and complete other related work. The E-Peek Pahani project was inaugurated on August 15, 2021 by chief minister Uddhav Thackeray.
Farmers would receive information about various government schemes through the app and registration for crop loans, crop insurance and compensation will have fewer errors. The benefit of schemes for drip irrigation and spray irrigation schemes would also be accessed by farmers far more easily, Thorat explains. This will also make it easier for the government to provide compensation to farmers against crop losses.
Since August 15, 2021, around 88 lakh farmers have registered themselves with the E-Peek Pahani App in the Kharif season. Instruction to provide training and organising workshops for officials of Revenue and Agriculture Department has been given so that they can promptly inform farmers of developments.
Thorat has been active in the cooperative sector, a thriving sector in the state which has produced several political stalwarts. In 1988, he became the chairman of the cooperative milk producers’ society. There was no looking back as he subsequently served as director of the local taluka cooperative sugar factory and was the founder of the taluka cooperative cotton mill. He was also chairman of the taluka credit society federation.
He was Agriculture, Water Conservation, Revenue minister in the cabinets of Ashok Chavan and Prithviraj Chavan. He has also been the Water resources and command area development minister in the state. The varied experience has been invaluable as the state’s revenue minister, he says.
During the tenure of the previous BJP government, work on Nilwande dam in Ahmednagar district was delayed but the project was expedited by Thorat, satisfying a long pending demand of the people there.
A permanent member of the Congress Working Committee (CWC), president of the MPCC and leader of the Congress Legislature Party in the Assembly, his stature in the party has steadily grown. He was in-charge of the party in Gujarat and an Observer in Himachal Pradesh.
(Translated from Marathi by Abhir More)
(This article was first published in National Herald on Sunday)