Friday, December 12, 2014

Vidarbha farmers unhappy despite Rs.70b relief package-GulfNews

Vidarbha farmers unhappy despite Rs.70b relief package

In spite of the special package, at least 14 distressed farmers committed suicide
  • By Pamela Raghunath, Correspondent

Mumbai-Published: 15:39 December 12, 2014
Despite Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis announcing a huge package of Rs70 billion (Dh4.13 billion) to drought-hit farmers mainly from Vidarbha and Marathwada regions, the community is not too happy with it.
Hundreds of farmers from different parts of Vidarbha, having their allegiance to the Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti (VJAS), a farmers’association, assembled at Daheli village in Pandharkawda block of Yavatmal district on Thursday and expressed their anguish and protest against the state government by setting fire to the election manifestoes of the BJP and Shiv Sena, said Kishore Tiwari of VJAS.
At the ongoing winter legislative session in Nagpur, Fadnavis announced on Thursday a bailout package that included a compensation of Rs39.25 billion to horticulturists and drought-hit farmers with aid expected from the Centre. It also covered for the first time a payout of Rs3.73 billion for private moneylenders who have loaned money to farmers. There are around 500,000 farmers who have taken money from moneylenders who charge massive interest ranging from 25 per cent to 50 per cent. The government will only be paying registered moneylenders who have proper records at an interest rate fixed by the government, in addition to paying off institutional loans.
The government also announced farmers’ electricity bills will be waived for the September quarter for which the government would spend Rs2.15 billion.
In spite of the special package, at least 14 distressed farmers committed suicide, said Tiwari, since it is felt that this packages is targeted to help mainly the bankers and private money lenders.
“We want the alliance government to implement the Modi formula of 50 per cent profit beyond the production cost of crops,” he said, adding that the same old bureaucrats are assigned to prepare the packages and it is always for their personal gains.
“We demand a total waiver of crop loans and announcement of minimum support price for cotton, soyabean, tur dal and other grains on the lines of the Modi Formula,” said Tiwari. He pointed how Modi had assured the farmers in a village near Ami during his ‘Chai pe charcha’ (chat over tea) programme during his election campaign before the recent Lok Sabha and assembly polls to grant a minimum support price to the extent of 50 per cent profit beyond the production cost to the farmers.
According to the farmer-activist, Fadnavis has not considered the woes of dry-land farmers who have lost at least Rs20,000 a hectare in soyabean and Rs15,000 a hectare in cotton cultivation. These farmers were expecting cash compensation of at least Rs15,000 a hectare. “But all they will now get is Rs4,500 a hectare with a cap of two hectares. The orchard owners, including orange growers, will be better off with Rs35,000 a hectare and will get maximum relief of Rs70,000 for two hectares.”
Farmers are disappointed, he said, since the ruling parties have forgotten the promises made in their election manifesto and that is why debt-strapped and nature-beaten farmers are pushed to starvation. The state and central government must give immediate attention towards the “untold woes of the farmers.”
Tiwari said the package was nothing more than the relief norms fixed by National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development for drought-hit areas.

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