Maharashtra government has decided to reduce the value added tax (VAT) on petrol and diesel by Rs 5 and Rs 3 per litre respectively, Chief Minister Eknath Shinde said here on Thursday.

The decision, to be implemented from Thursday midnight, would entail a burden of Rs 6,000 crore on the state exchequer. It will benefit the common man affected by the fuel price hike, Shinde told reporters after a cabinet meeting at the secretariat ‘Mantralaya’.

Deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis said the decision was part of the Shiv Sena-BJP government’s commitment to people’s welfare.

The government will ensure the burden of Rs 6,000 crore on the state exchequer does not impact development works, Shinde said.

The Maharashtra government also reversed the previous Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) regime’s decision to stop direct election of village sarpanchs and municipal council/nagar panchayat presidents.

Earlier, the Fadnavis-led state government (which was in power from 2014 to 2019) had allowed direction election of sarpanchs and municipal council presidents, which the MVA dispensation headed by Uddhav Thackeray scrapped in 2020.

The Shinde government will also restore the pension of the “Loktantra Sangram Senani”, who were jailed for protesting against the Emergency from 1975 to 1977, Fadnavis said.

In 2018, the then Fadnavis government announced a pension of Rs 5,000 to Rs 10,000 for such people, but it was stopped in 2020 by the MVA.

On Thursday, Deputy CM Fadnavis said 3,600 people will now get the pension and 800 more applications will be approved on merit.

”Not just the Jana Sangh and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, all political activists participated in the agitation against the Emergency. My father was in jail for two years. Democracy was reinstated due to efforts of the activists,” Fadnavis said.

He said the incentive was stopped by the previous MVA government due to pressure, may be because the Congress was part of it.

Fadnavis further said Shinde has given all clearances for the Ahmedabad-Mumbai bullet train project.

Shinde said Prime Minister Narendra Modi called him on Thursday morning and asked to expedite the free of cost COVID-19 booster dose programme for people in the age group of 18 to 59 years.

The programme should be taken up in the next 75 days, he said.

Shinde also said the phase-2 of the Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT) will be implemented in Maharashtra.

The cabinet also decided to implement the ‘Swachh Maharashtra Abhiyan’ in which 400 more local bodies are included, and Rs 10,500 crore will be spent on water supply, sanitation and revival of water bodies, the CM said.

Shinde further said the incentive of Rs 50,000 given to farmers who repay their loans regularly will also cover Kolhapur cultivators who have been provided flood relief assistance. PTI MR VT GK GK

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