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Maharashtra budget session starts Monday

Sunday March 10, 2013 12:47:59 PM, IANS

Mumbai: As the crucial budget session of the Maharashtra legislature opens here Monday, the opposition is set to attack the the ruling Congress-NCP government on issues like the Bhandara rape case, drought, and the irrigation scam.

The recent incidents of alleged rape-cum-murder of three minor sisters in Bhandara, the brutal killing of three Dalit youths in Ahmednagar, growing crimes against women and female foeticide will be part of the opposition charge against the beleaguered Democratic Front government.

The government will also face fire over the worsening drought situation in the state due to faulty and allegedly corrupt irrigation planning, continuing suicides of farmers and deepening crisis in the farm sector.

The recent clashes between activists of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and Raj Thackeray's Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) would add fuel to the opposition fire.

Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar, who is allegedly linked to the Rs.70,000 crore irrigation scam, has been facing the combined attack of the Shiv Sena, the Bharatiya Janata Party and the MNS weeks before the budget session.

Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray Saturday sounded the war bugle in Amravati by demanding "an account of the Rs.70,000 crore" and claimed that his party-led alliance would form the next government in the state.

The budget session 2013-14, starting here Monday with an address by Governor K. Sankaranarayanan has assumed added significance as it will be the last before the next Lok Sabha elections, scheduled early 2014.

The economic survey for the country's most industrialised state shall be presented March 19, followed by the budget the next day, March 20.

Since January, the state has been facing severe water crisis, considered even worse than the great drought of 1972 and affecting 6,000 villages across the state.

The immediate fallout has been increased rural influx into urban areas, which are already facing resource crunch.

According to official data, 123 talukas spread across 15 of the state's 35 districts are gripped by the current drought-like crisis, with three months more to go for the monsoon.

The central government has extended a relief package of Rs.5.74 billion, but the political parties have demanded more money to help tide over the crisis.

On the irrigation scam front, the opposition has reservations over the nature of the probe announced at the fag end of the winter session of the legislature in December 2012 in Nagpur.

In a letter to Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan, Leader of the Opposition in the council Vinod Tawde has demanded amendments to the terms of reference given to the Special Investigating Team (SIT) probing the irrigation scam.

One of the points of reference says that the executive directors of various state irrigation corporations shall furnish all information and facilities required by the SIT for its probe.

Strangely enough, the officials heading these irrigation corporations are at the receiving end of the allegations of irregularities along with their political masters.

Tawde's letter came after the SIT head and water management expert Madhav Chitale recently said that it had no powers to probe the officials involved in the irrigation scams.

Home Minister R.R. Patil will have a lot of answering to do on the Bhandara incident.


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