Friday, April 6, 2012

Yavatmal Farm Widows' Plight Moves Kelkar Panel -TIMES OF INDIA

Yavatmal Farm Widows' Plight Moves Kelkar Panel -TIMES OF INDIA
NAGPUR: Economist, chairman of the 13th finance commission and retired bureaucrat Vijay Kelkar, who heads the committee formed by Maharashtra governor to take a fresh look at regional imbalance, was moved by the plight of widows of farmers who ended their lives unable to bear the economic stress. "The crisis in Vidarbha's dry-lands is deep and of immense proportions," he agreed after meeting hapless members of the distressed farming community and others at Bacchat Bhavan in Yavatmal collectorate on Friday.

Kelkar was particularly touched by the misery of Rekha Thag, a farm widow from Venikota village, who was allegedly thrown out of the house by her in-laws after husband's death. She now fends for herself working as a domestic help in Yavatmal and looks after her children. Kelkar reportedly promised to support education of her daughter.

Kelkar and some of his team members had a separate meeting with elected representatives from Zilla Parishad and panchayat samitis who recounted to him the abysmal conditions in which people live in the backward district. Progressive farmer Subhash Sharma, who has successfully tapped organic farming techniques, also presented his views.

Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti's Kishore Tiwari, in his presentation, blamed the faulty policies of the Maharashtra government for the agrarian crisis that farmers' of the region find themselves in leading to the unending suicide crisis. "The only plausible solution is creation of separate state of Vidarbha," Tiwari stressed.

However, Kelkar while summing up the meeting made it clear that he may not able to recommend creation of a new state as it was beyond the scope of his assigned task. Kelkar said the obsession with the perceived backlog figures must go. He would certainly seek policy reforms and long term planning for narrowing gaps in per capita income in the various regions of the state. Different groups within the 14-member committee are tackling issues like governance deficit, infrastructure needs and policy initiatives needed to meet goalposts like poverty alleviation. Kelkar also suggested that technology thrusts like broadband network which could be game-changers and open new avenues for economic development weaning it from agriculture and other traditional resources would be examined.

Earlier, after arrival here on Thursday evening, Kelkar, in his interaction with a select group of people, stressed on need for policy changes, especially reforms needed in forest laws that would be taken up by his committee. He said no deadline was fixed for submission of his report as the committee work had suffered because of civic and other elections recently.

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