North Mah MLAs protest 'injustice'; pandemonium in both Houses
Mumbai, Mar 28 (UNI) The issue of a cut in fund allocation for North Maharashtra today rocked both the Houses of the State Legislature with members from the region cutting across party lines demanding that the government inform about the fresh directives of Governor S M Krishna regarding the disbursement of funds for irrigation purpose.
The Appropriation (Supplementary) Bill was passed by a voice vote in the Assembly amid pandemonium with legislators from North Maharashtra shouting slogans demanding a statement from Finance Minister Jayant Patil as to what directives had been issued by the Governor regarding allocation of funds.
In the Council, it was passed after the Shiv Sena-BJP Opposition staged a walk-out condemning the government.
The Assembly witnessed as many as five adjournments before the House was finally adjourned for the day.
Meanwhile, Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh, Finance Minister Jayant Patil, opposition leaders and other legislators held talks in the Speaker's chamber to resolve the issue.
North Maharashtra legislators, which included Congress and NCP heavyweights from the region like Amrish Patel and Suresh Jain respectively trooped into the well of the House and rasised slogans like ''Khandesh La Nyay Milalach Pahije'' (justice must be done to Khandesh--North Maharashtra).
Mr Jain said he had received information that even though Rs 385 crore had been sanctioned for North Maharashtra in the supplementary demands, the disbursement would be only Rs 100 crore as per the Governor's fresh directives.
He supported BJP leader Gopinath Munde and Shiv Sena leader Subhash Desai that the House should be informed about what transpired between the Governor, the Chief Minister and the Finance Minister.
After the House was adjourned for the day, the North Maharashtra legislators assembled outside the Vidhan Bhavan building and shouted slogans. The Government did not table the bill last Friday, saying that it was yet to get permission from the Governor. Last week during the debate on supplementary demands of Rs 1,041 crore for irrigation department, BJP member Devendra Phadanvis had pointed out that the government had not abided by the Governor's directives of equitable distribution of funds to all regions for removal of irrigation backlog.
Deputy Chief Minister R R Patil had told the House that additional funds had to be diverted to Jalgaon, Dhule and Nandurbar as the human development index there was the lowest in the State and malnutrition deaths, drought like situation was prevailed in these areas.
Mr Patil Rs 100 crore had been allocated to Marathwada, Rs 50 crore for Konkan, Rs 385 crore for Tapi irrigation development in North Maharashtra and some funds were for dam project affected in Marathwada. It was later decided in the cabinet that Vidarbha would get Rs 150 crore. The imbalance would be met during the financial year, he had assured.
Opposition members had said the government had not sought permission from the Governor to effect the changes. The Appropriation (supplementary) bill was not introduced last Friday.