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Maharashtra not a failed state: Deshmukh

Written by: Staff
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Mumbai, Apr 29 (UNI) Strongly denying that the Planning Commission has dubbed Maharashtra as a ''failed state,'' Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh has, however, admitted that he was ''totally embarrassed'' by farmers' suicide which alongwith the problems of malnutrition and electricity and the precarious fiscal situation continued to be ''grey areas'' of the state.

If reports about the Planning Commission categorising Maharashtra as a failed state were correct, the Chief Minister wanted to know on what basis the central body had hiked the annual plan outlay for the state by 34 per cent for the current financial year.

In a wide ranging interview to CNN-IBN television channel for its ''Devil's Advocate'' programme, hosted by Mr Karan Thapar, he said one or two loss-making public sector undertakings (PSUs) of the state would be closed down by the end of this year as part of the fiscal discipline being enforced by his government.

The state government had, in fact, decided to wind up ''quite a few'' PSUs which were in the red, the Chief Minister said, but admitted that ''cutting down on public subsidy is very difficult and a most unpopular decision''.

Mr Deshmukh said his government would implement all its decisions announced to help the farmers who were under the burden of heavy debts, particularly due to loans taken from private money lenders.

''The new decision (on concessional loans) is applicable to all farmers of the state and this will enable them to take fresh loans.

That is the guarantee given by the government...There is no question of going back on that when farmers are in distress.'' Maintaining that he would not like to dispute various independent assessments of the number of farmers who had committed suicide this year, he put the official figure at 350.

He also would not agree that the suicides were purely due to indebtedness or inadequate procurement prices for farm produce, particularly cotton, and said his government was paying the prices fixed by the Centre under the MSP scheme. The state government was also clearing all the dues of farmers.

''There is no co-relation between cotton prices and suicides'' and this was the conclusion of a team which visited the bereaved families.

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