Saturday, September 1, 2007

PM's package benefited leaders, not farmers By - Ganesh Kanate

PM's package benefited leaders, not farmers By - Ganesh Kanate

The co-operative banks run by Congress and NCP leaders have gained by PM's dole-out

Shocking revelations that the Prime Minister's special rehabilitation package of Rs3,750 crore for Vidarbha, where more than 10,000 farmers committed suicide in the last ten years, was in fact benefiting the co-operative banks run by the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leaders and not the farmers. Coming on the eve of PM's visit, the revelations are expected to dominate his review meetings with the state government.

Kishor Tiwari, chief convenor of Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti, on Thursday afternoon made the exposure in a press conference.

He pointed out that the Maharashtra government claimed that out of Rs3,750 crore, the Centre has made available Rs2,784.02 crore and out of that Rs1,795.80 crore had already been spent.

"Even this claim is disputable. But let's take it on its face value and analyse. Out of Rs 1,795.89 crore spent, Rs 825 crore has been spent for waiving off overdue interest on farmers' crop-loan. A pertinent question that government must answer is whether this money really benefited farmers or the co-operative banks run by the Congress and NCP leaders. Not a penny has reached the farmers. Entire amount has been swallowed by the co-operative banks," Tiwari claimed.

This clearly means that half of the PM's package has been handed over to the Congress and NCP leaders, he said. And another major amount of Rs810 crore has been spent on creating assured irrigation which is a long-term programme and not likely to benefit farmers immediately.

"The problem with this component is that it is not going to help farmers who were on the verge of committing suicides as benefit of assured irrigation would reach farmers after some years. Thus one can easily conclude that out of Rs1,795.80 crore, Rs1,635 crore has been spent on measures that are not going to benefit farmers in near future," Tiwari pointed out.

Third very important thing that Tiwari pointed out was the faulty method adopted by the government to decide whether the farmer had committed suicide because of agrarian crisis or out of personal reasons.

He said, "They have formed a district-level committee headed by the District Collector in which they claimed to have included two representatives of the farmers. Shockingly, in majority of the cases these two farmers' representatives actually represent either the Congress or the NCP and not the farmers. That is why the government has concluded that till August 10, 2007, 700 farmers' suicide have been reported and only 106 were found to be due to agrarian crisis. This clearly means that according to government, 594 farmers have committed suicide because of their personal reasons like drinking habits, critical health and illicit relations and so on. This is ridiculous!"

The government is fudging these figures not because it does not have enough money to distribute financial assistance of Rs1 lakh to the kin of each farmer who has committed suicide. The aim is to bring the suicide figures down because that is bringing shame to this otherwise 'progressive' state, Tiwari claimed.

As for providing solution, he said, the government should waive off entire crop-loan of farmers, and it should increase support price of cotton procurement to Rs 2,700 per quintal so that farmers get direct benefit and also cash in hand.

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