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‘Rs 145 cr spent from Maha CF, but not on contingencies’

Sudhir Mungantiwar

Mumbai : Even as Maharashtra government approved supplementary demands of over Rs 14,000 crore during the monsoon session of state legislature, it failed to make provisions for certain other expenses, resulting in a spending of about Rs 145 crore from the Contingency Fund (CF).

Provisions were not made in state budget for expenses like purchasing Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar’s home in London and providing Rs 77 crore to District Cooperative Banks (DCC) in lieu of transforming short-term loans to long-term.

Besides, the state government had approved Rs 7.65 crore for a health scheme in 14 suicide-prone districts on September 11 this year, and also Rs 28.35 crore to transform additional milk into milk powder on September 14.

According to official records, several such schemes have resulted into an expenditure of Rs 145 crore from the CF, that is primarily used to meet emergency needs.

However, state Finance Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar said the money has only been spent on agrarian issues.

The CF has a permanent limit of Rs 150 crore. However, the BJP-led state government had increased the limit on a temporary basis to Rs 962 crore on May 27 this year.

The CF has been created under the Mumbai Contingency Act 1956 and since April 11, 1990, it has permanent limit of Rs 150 crore.

“Though the fund limit has been set at Rs 150 crore, there are instances when it is raised in view of unforeseen events like natural disasters,” an official from the finance department said.

According to the official, since July this year, Rs 145.59 crore was spent from the CF for various purposes.

As DCC banks transformed crop loans into long term loans, the state has disbursed Rs 77.59 crore to Akola, Amravati, Yavatmal, Chandrapur and Nashik DCC banks.

“It was necessary to help farmers so that they can overcome drought problems. The district banks converted crop loans into long-term loans and thus, it was the state’s duty to disburse 15 per cent as its share against the total converted amount,” Mungantiwar said.

On the finance department’s decision to spend Rs 32 crore on purchase of Dr Ambedkar’s home in London from the CF, the minister said, “Expenses approved in budget provisions have to be spent on the designated purpose only. Though it was decided the state will purchase Dr Ambedkar’s house and a token amount was given, at the time of actual purchase, the money was made available from the CF.”

During monsoon session in July, the finance department had got an approval of both the Houses of state legislature for supplementary demands worth Rs 14,793.07 crore.

In the previous year, the Congress-led government had raised the CF limit to Rs 2,500 crore, to give relief to farmers suffering crop losses due to hailstorms.

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