Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Thursday night chaired the maiden meeting of his cabinet which sanctioned Rs 20 crore for conservation of the Raigad Fort as he promised concrete assistance for farmers after reviewing existing schemes instead of any piecemeal aid.
Thackeray, sworn in the CM in Mumbai hours earlier, chaired the first meeting of his cabinet at Sahyadri Guest House in south Mumbai.
He said the first decision of the cabinet was to approve a sum of Rs 20 crore for conserving the Raigad Fort, which was the capital of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj in the 17th century.
Addressing his first press conference after taking over as CM, Thackeray said he has asked the chief secretary to review all existing government schemes for farmers to understand how much they have actually helped the community.
"We can paint a better picture if we know the reality. We have sought inputs. Farmers have not got anything, but only assurances. We want to provide concrete help to farmers," he said after the meeting.
"I have asked the chief secretary to provide a realistic picture about the number of schemes aimed at helping farmers and how much they have benefited them.
"Once I get the real picture, we will be able to come up with solution," Thackeray said.
The CM said he is not looking at piecemeal approach to resolve issues related to cultivators, who suffered crop losses in unseasonal rains in October.
"I don't want to provide any negligible assistance but whatever we will do, it will be a grand and satisfactory provision for farmers," Thackeray said.
"So far farmers have been given false promises and they have not benefited actually. I have seen farmers were given certificates of loan waiver but they did not benefit in reality," he said, said hitting out at the erstwhile Devendra Fadnavis government which had announced a mega farm loan waiver in June 2017.
"Even the crop insurance scheme has failed to address farmer issues. The Sena has taken their issues to the streets. We want to provide some meaningful help to farmers," said Thackeray, who is also president of the Sena, a key member of the Maha Vikas Aghadi, the governing coalition also comprising the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party.
"We want to ensure an atmosphere in the state wherein nobody will feel terrorised," he said.
Before the swearing-in ceremony, the three parties unveiled their common minimum programme (CMP), which will guide the three-party government.
Former chief minister Devendra Fadnavis expressed his disappointment over the programme, saying it does not talk about other parts of the state such as north Maharashtra and Marathwada.
Asked about it, Thackeray said, "The cabinet is of entire Maharashtra and the person who is making such comment was chief minister for five years. A cabinet is not of a particular region, but it represents the entire state."
"He should study and tell us to which region our cabinet belongs to," Thackeray said sarcastically.
Elaborating on the first decision taken by the cabinet related to conservation of the Raigad Fort, he said, "The total cost of the project is Rs 606 crore of which Rs 20 crore was disbursed by the previous government.
"I am happy the first decision in my cabinet was sanctioning (Rs 20 crore) for the second round of the ongoing work."
At the media briefing, Thackeray was accompanied by his cabinet colleagues Chhagan Bhujbal, Jayant Patil, Nitin Raut and Balasaheb Thorat.