"There is a fiscal deficit of Rs 26,000 crore, hence the government has decided to effect a 40 percent cut in non-plan expenditure till the State Budget Session in March next year," Revenue Minister Eknath Khadse told reporters here on the eve of the Winter Session of Maharashtra Legislature.

The erstwhile Congress-NCP government had adopted a similar practice with 20 per cent cut in non-plan expenses, although they had never made an announcement to that effect, he said.

On drought and farmers' suicide, the minister said, "The government was concerned over farmers' suicides and drought- like situation looming large over 19,024 villages in parts of state. The crop of cotton, soya in Vidarbha region suffered due to paucity of rains. We have taken decision to provide relief to farmers."

Farmers will be given a 33.5 percent waiver in electricity bills and their crop loan will be restructured. The farm labourers will be absorbed in the EGS work.

"Similarly those children of farmers, who are appearing for SSC and HSC exams, will not have to pay the examination fees for the same," he said.

The BJP-Sena government is for 'minimum government and maximum governance' and will introduce one window-system for industries, where investment is less than Rs 100 crore and will be cleared within three days, he said.

"Development of Vidarbha will be a major issue for the government and implementation of Kelkar Committee on regional imbalances will be discussed in the House," he said.     

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Girish Bapat, Transport Minister Diwakar Raote, Industries Minister Subhash Desai, PWD Minister Eknath Shinde and Energy Minister Chandrashekhar Bawankule were also present.

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