Located in western India, Maharashtra is one of the largest states with an area of 3.08 lakh square kilometres or 9.4 per cent of India’s geographical area. The state can be broadly divided into three different regions – Konkan Coastal Line, Deccan plateau and Western Ghats. Variant topography of the state offers you the best it has – deciduous forests, arid deserts, coastal regions, lofty hills and lush green forests. The moderate summers and mild winters of the state make your holidays most pleasant experience.
The economic scene in Maharashtra is intriguing. With a per capita Net State Domestic Product (NSDP) of Rs. 28,414 Maharashtra stood second only to Haryana among all major states in 2003-04. It is among the richest states in terms of contribution to the national economy. Maharashtra’s Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP) of Rs. 328,808 crore in current prices was 13 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of India in 2003-04. Mumbai, the state’s capital city, is considered to be the commercial and financial capital of India and this city alone contributes more than 35 per cent to the country’s direct taxes. The state boasts of an enterprising farming community growing among other things sugarcane, Alphonso mangoes and grapes. The Maharashtra Employment Guarantee Scheme (MEGS) is a much talked about social welfare measure and the National Rural Employment Guarantee (NREG) Bill 2004 proposes replicating a similar programme all over the country.
Maharashtra is richly endowed within various minerals of industrials importance like manganese, coal, iron ore, limestone, copper, bauxite, silica sand, and common salt. These minerals are found in substantial quantities in in the eastern districts with some deposits in the west. Bituminous coal are found in the in the districts of Bhandra, Nagpur and Chandrapur. Undersea oil deposits were discovered in and near Mumbai in the 1970s. The mountainous region of the state is a virtual repository of rich timber reserves.
Sorghum, millet, and pulses dominate the cropped area. Rice grows where rainfall exceeds 40 inches, and wheat is a winter crop in fields that retain moisture. Cotton, tobacco, and peanuts are major crops in areas having 24-39 inches of rainfall. Irrigation dams in rain-shadow areas have resulted in a rich sugarcane yield. Mangoes, cashew nuts, bananas, and oranges are popular orchard crops.
Maharashtra is one of the most industrialized states in the country. Cotton textile industry is the largest and the oldest industry in the state. Important centers of this industry are located at Bombay, Nagpur, Sholapur, Akola, and Amravati; handloomed goods are produced especially in and around Nagpur and Sholapur. Traditional and agro industries also make significant presence in Jalgaon and Dhule (edible oils processing) and Kolhapur, Ahmadnagar, Sangli, and Miraj (sugar refining). Fruit canning and preservation are important in Nagpur, Bhusawal, Ratnagiri, and Bombay. Timber, bamboo, sandalwood, and tendu leaves (for cheap cigarettes) are the important forests produce. Small-scale agro-processing, consisting of conversion of food grains, oilseeds, and other crops into items of daily consumption, is virtually ubiquitous in the state.
Maharashtra utilizes both hydroelectricity and thermal electricity. The producing plants of the former are in western areas of the state while that of the latter form of power are in the eastern region. Maharashtra is the home of India’s first nuclear plant (located at Tarapur, 70 miles north of Mumbai).
The state’s greatest concentration of heavy industry and high technology is in the Mumbai-Pune zone. The petrochemical industry has witnessed a massive growth in the state after the installation of India’s off shore oil wells near Mumbai in 1976. Oil refining and the manufacture of such items as agricultural implements, transport equipment, rubber products, electric and oil pumps, lathes, compressors, sugar-mill machinery, typewriters, refrigerators, electronic equipment, and television and radio sets are assuming increasing importance. Automobile industry is in its infancy but holds high promises. Mumbai is the capital of Indian film industry and is popularly known as Bollywood. Aurangabad and Thane are also important industrial hubs.
Maharashtra is well connected by roads, air and railways. Five national highways connect the state with Delhi, Calcutta, Allahabad, Hyderabad, and Bangalore. State and private transport operators serve all routes. Inland water transport plays a limited role in Maharashtra, and other than Bombay there are only minor ports on the western coast.
Maharashtra is India’s leading industrial state contributing 13% of national industrial output. 64.14% of the people are employed in agriculture and allied activities. Almost 46% of the GSDP is contributed by industry.
Maharashtra has had an immense History in textiles and Mumbai city was the original home of India’s textile mills. Today some of the city’s known for textile industry Solapur, Ichalkaranji, Malegaon and Bhiwandi.
Sugar industry has made considerable progress specially in the co-operative sector. Maharashtra is well known for the development of sugar industry on co-operative lines in which the farmers acquire a share in the sugar mills. pharmaceuticals, petrochemicals, heavy chemicals, electronics, automobiles, engineering, food processing, and plastics are some of the major industries of the state. Maharashtra is renowned for the production of three-wheelers, jeeps, commercial vehicles and cars, synthetic fibers, cold rolled products and industrial alcohol. Small scale industries have also come up in a big way in the state. The state capital Mumbai is called as an industrial city. Industrial development in the state is largely concentrated in Mumbai. The six important industries in the district are cotton textiles, chemicals, machinery, electricals, transport and metallurgy. These industries also provide employment to a considerable number of people in Mumbai.
Although Maharashtra is a highly industrialized state of India, agriculture continues to be the main occupation of the state. Principal crops include rice, jowar, bajra, wheat, pulses, turmeric, onions, cotton,sugarcane and several oil seeds including groundnut, sunflower and soyabean. The state has huge areas, under fruit cultivation of which mangoes, bananas, grapes, and oranges are the main ones. Irrigationfacilities are being extended so that agriculture could be made less dependent upon rain water. The net irrigated area totals 33,500 square kilometres.