Maharashtra’s economy grew at an estimated 7.5% in 2018-19, the same pace as the year before it, but growth in the agricultural sector collapsed to a mere 0.4% and crop output shrank by a sharp 8%.
With industrial growth also contracting, it was only a sharp 9.2% growth in the Services sector that helped the State retain the 7.5% growth rate, as per the Economic Survey tabled in the Assembly on Monday.
The agriculture and allied activities sector is expected to grow by 0.4% compared to 3.1% in 2017-18 while industry may grow by 6.9% compared to 7.6 % in the previous fiscal. Only the services sector is predicted to grow faster than the 8.1% recorded in 2017-18.
What should set off alarm bells about the State’s agrarian economy is the 8% contraction in crop production during the year gone by. “The State is facing consecutive droughts. The drop in crop production is a result of that. Despite that, we have managed to keep the overall growth rate at more than that of the Indian economy,” said Finance Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar.
“We are expected to maintain the pace of the growth despite odds,” he said, adding that the real Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP) is estimated to be ₹20,88,835 crore with expected growth of 7.5%. Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has set a target to make Maharashtra a trillion dollar economy by 2025. Maharashtra is presently a $400 billion economy.
The Opposition has raised doubts about the numbers quoted in the survey, and demanded a close scrutiny. Former chief minister and senior Congress leader Prithviraj Chavan flagged some doubts on the authenticity of figures and said the agricultural growth rate had been revised by almost 12%.
“As per the Economic Survey of 2017-18, the estimated agriculture development rate was (-) 8.3%. In the present survey, it has been revised to 3.4%. It is impossible to have such a big change of almost 12%. The government should show proof of such drastic changes,” he said.
Dhananjay Munde, the Leader of Opposition in the Legislative Council said there was a need to set up an “all-party members’ committee” for evaluation of the Economic Survey.
According to the survey, the State witnessed average rainfall (84.3% of the normal) in 2017-18, 10.7 percentage points lower than 2016-17. Production of food grain, oilseeds and cotton decreased by about 15.1%, 17.7% and 43.3% respectively while that of sugarcane, fruits and vegetables increased by 53.3%, 10.3% and 17% respectively.
The survey estimates the growth rate of mining & quarrying and manufacturing sectors within the industry as 2.9% and 7.1% for 2018-19, up from 7.2% and 7.7% in 2017-18. Mr. Mungantiwar said that the State has registered growth in per capita income during 2018-19 at ₹1,91,827 from ₹1,76,102 of 2017-18. The State however, ranks at number three behind Karnataka and Telangana nationally.