The Economic Times Online
Printed from economictimes.indiatimes.com > Politics/Nation
Is the PMO blind to Vidarbha farmers' plight?
TIMES NEWS NETWORK [ SATURDAY, MARCH 03, 2007 02:15:16 AM]
MUMBAI: The Vidarbha suicide story has split two Congress-led governments right down in the middle, or so it seems. The state government has decided to join issue with the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) over the alleged poor implementation of the PM's relief package, Mantralaya officials told ET.
An affidavit filed by the state DF government in the Supreme Court two weeks ago contends that the Centre has not released Rs 3-crore aid meant for the widows of farmers who had committed suicides in the recent past.
The amount in question forms part of the Prime Minister's special relief package worth over Rs 3,750 crore for six districts in Vidarbha, which reported high incidence of suicides. Mantralaya sources said the sum should have been released to district collectors of the region concerned for immediate relief.
Predictably enough, the state's affidavit has not gone down well with the PMO, and a probe had been ordered to dig out the facts, sources said. "The affidavit proves that the Congress government in the state is not happy with the Centre and particularly with the PMO," said Kishore Tiwari of Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti.
The state, however, is least perturbed. "We have taken note of the probe ordered by the PMO and relevant information will be conveyed to the Centre, if required," a rehabilitation official said. "The state can easily establish that allocations from the Prime Minister's National Relief Fund (PMNRF) earmarked under the package have not been released. In fact, the state has had to spend from its own reserves on measures which are part of the PM's package," the official told ET.
The apex court is hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by a social activist blaming the Centre for not releasing funds committed under the relief package. The PIL takes note of reports carried by ET in February saying that the Centre has released a paltry 15% of its promised outlay of Rs 3,750 crore till January-end this year.
The state finance minister, Jayant Patil, had earlier held the PMO responsible for not doing the needful. While the state has spent more than 85% of its relief funds on suicide, the Centre is way short of achieving the targets set out by the Prime Minister.
"It's quite surprising that the PMO has ordered a probe. Because chief minister Vilasrao Deshmukh and finance minister Jayant Patil had pointed this out to the Planning Commission in January and urged the Centre to sanction funds," a top state bureaucrat said.
©Bennett, Coleman and Co., Ltd. All rights reserved.