NEW DELHI: The UPA is drawing from Narendra Modi's experience in Gujarat to work out a " Kalawati package" for cotton producing areas in Maharashtra. The agriculture ministry is pushing the finance ministry to include the scheme in the Budget allocation for the next year.
The entire package, expected to cost Rs 3,000 crore-4000 crore, will have irrigation as one of the most critical elements to help boost productivity levels in cotton growing areas of Maharashtra that is much lower than Gujarat.
The view within the agriculture ministry is that irrigation is the big difference between the two western states. Gujarat has a huge network of check dams, which, officials said, is responsible for adequate water availability in the region.
The package, sources said, is among the few new features that the farm ministry has proposed to finance minister Pranab Mukherjee in its Budget wish list. While the overall allocation is expected to rise marginally from Rs 17,523 crore, the agriculture ministry is seeking to allocate more funds to the proposed green revolution in the east as well as cotton growers in Maharashtra.
Politically too the package is being backed by Union agriculture minister Sharad Pawar given that it affects his home state. Besides, Rahul Gandhi had taken up the issue and made Kalawati famous. Her husband is among thousand of farmers in Vidharbha who committed suicide due to mounting debt.
According to available data, nearly 50% of the cotton-growing land in Gujarat is irrigated, while in Maharashtra that figure is less than 5%. As a result, the cost of growing the cash crop is much lower in Gujarat.
"One of the key interventions that the government can make is to provide irrigation facilities such as through drip irrigation, check dams and farm ponds. It cannot be spread over 10 years, you need to do it in a matter of months if you want to prevent more suicides," said an agriculture ministry official.