(Ravi Rana is the Independent MLA from Badnera)
*The progress of irrigation projects in the region is appalling. The region is starved of irrigation and hence the farmers are poor. Unless they get water round the year they won't be able to break the cycle of poverty. About 90% funds have been sanctioned for many dams but there is little progress.
** Too many power plants are being set up in Vidarbha. Water reserved for agriculture is being diverted in large scale. It will further worsen the agrarian crisis. The power plants will also pollute the region's environment.
*** Farmers need to be compensated for the damage to orange, cotton and soyabean crops due to excess rainfall. Unless they are given compensation, many small farmers will find it hard to make two ends meet.
**** Amravati Municipal Corporation (AMC) has steeply increased the local body tax (LBT). It is on par with that of Pune and Aurangabad municipal corporations, where people are more affluent. It has imposed a heavy burden on common people of Amravati. It will affect the economy of the city too.
***** Maharashtra Airport Development Company (MADC) is apathetic towards developing Belora (Amravati) airport. This is affecting the economy of the city. An airport is a must for an emerging growth centre.
The most pressing issue for Vidarbha in the coming winter session is the large number of pending irrigation projects. The region has very little irrigation facilities and consequently the farmers are poor. The region has one of the highest incidences of farmers' suicide in the country.
All the experts who have visited the region have unanimously stated that the irrigation capacity needs to be improved in order to release the farmers from the cycle of poverty. This fact was acknowledged by the central government after Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh's visit in 2005. However, in these seven years the region has not witnessed much progress in the irrigation sector, which is shocking.
In our Amravati district, government had sanctioned 90% cost of many projects but only 10% to 30% work has been done. This is alarming and bodes ill for the farmers. When will these projects be completed? How long will they have to wait? I will raise this issue on priority basis.
On one hand the government is not developing irrigation capacity, while on the other it is diverting water meant for farmers to power plants. Too many power plants are coming up in Vidarbha and this will cause further depletion of whatever water is available for farmers. The Indiabulls powerplant at Nandgaonpeth has robbed thousands of farmers of water and wreaked havoc in their lives. In spite of strong opposition from farmers and many public representatives the government allocated the plant water from Upper Wardha dam.
The power plants will also pollute air and soil causing illness among humans and animals. The productivity of land will go down. Nobody will compensate us for this. Why should all power plants come up in Vidarbha? The region is already power surplus. Power plants should be set up in areas where it is needed. Why should the people of Vidarbha be made to pay for the progress of other regions?
There are a lot of issues pertaining to rehabilitation of project affected persons (PAPs). Many have not been provided proper compensation since years. Many farmers have been displaced due to irrigation projects. These farmers have lost their land and others still do not have any water. If government continues to acquire land without proper rehabilitation it will create unrest.
Excess rainfall in Amravati and some other districts of Vidarbha damaged cotton, soyabean and orange crops. In some areas paddy too was affected. In many areas pests have destroyed cotton plants. The farmers need to be compensated for the damage. The compensation amount should be given on time so that they do not face financial problems. Farmers should get all possible help from the government so that they harvest a good rabi crop.
Amravati is now an emerging destination and needs an airport. Air connectivity will give a fillip to the economy of the city. However, Maharashtra Airport Development Company (MADC) is taking its own time to develop the airport at Belora. The airport will not help Amravati's economy but that of the entire district.
Another big problem that's afflicting the city is the steep hike in local body tax (LBT) levied by Amravati Municipal Corporation ( AMC). When state government abolished octroi, people heaved a sigh of relief but now LBT has been hiked so much that we do not feel the relief anymore. The hike in LBT is as high as in Pune and Aurangabad. LBT should be levied depending on the size of the city and the paying capacity of its residents. Obviously the average paying capacity of a Pune resident is far higher than his counterpart in Amravati.