Rising debt, power shortfall, pour trouble on Deshmukh

Mumbai | Updated: Oct 31 2005, 07:04am hrs
Amidst rising debt burden, increasing power shortages, the Opposition Shiv Sena-BJP alliance in complete disarray and the governments inept handling of the 26/7 deluge in the city, the Congress-led government in Maharashtra will complete one year in office on November 1.

However, despite these shortcomings, there is a silver lining for the state government as its fiscal management has started yielding some positive results. The state has achieved a surplus of over Rs 1,000 crore against its budgetary projection of Rs 256 crore by end of 2005-06.

Chief minister Vilasrao Deshmukh (Congress), who came under fire after the 26/7 rains in Mumbai by party high command and citizens at large, claims that the government was able to fulfill one-third of its 136 promises in the election manifesto. He admits that devastating rains and the subsequent flooding in Mumbai and elsewhere in the state on July 26, was a major setback for various development works. However, at the same time, it helped rejig the governments various plans to upgrade Mumbais infrastructure.

According to a senior minister: One year is too small a period to judge the performance of any government. There is a long way to go especially when Maharashtras lost glory has to be regained.

It is ironical that successive governments since 1995 (the saffron Shiv Sena-BJP alliance (1995-99), Congress-led government during 1999-04 and the present government since November 2004), there has not been any allocation for power generation. Till 1995, the Congress government had taken a policy decision to allocate at least 10% of the states annual plan for capacity addition. However, due to the sheer neglect, the government is now in a tizzy as it has to tackle an ever-increasing power shortfall.

The government inked memoranda of understanding for capacity addition of 12,500 mw with independent power producers on April 4, this year. It is now necessary for it to closely watch the implementation of these MoUs .

Similarly, the government would need Rs 33,000 crore for the completion of various irrigation projects. It is aware that after power, water could be another issue on which the divide between various regions may grow.