Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Farmers' plight draws HC's ire

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Farmers' plight draws HC's ire
7 Aug 2007, 0443 hrs IST,TNN

NAGPUR: Taking a serious view of the continuing farmers’ suicides and failure of the special relief packages, the Nagpur bench of the Bombay high court on Monday asked the state’s principal secretary (rehabilitation) to file an affidavit detailing matters related to farm credit, loan recovery statistics and implementation of the interest waiver scheme.

While hearing a PIL filed by Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti president Kishore Tiwari, the division bench of justices Dilip Sinha and Bhushan Dharmadhikari expressed its deep concern over the agrarian crisis prevailing in the region. Observing that farmers’ suicides was a serious matter, the court wondered if the state realised gravity of the situation.

In its last hearing of the case, on July 13, the court had asked the state to file within three weeks the measures taken by the government to tackle the issue. However, on Monday the affidavit filed by additional divisional commissioner of Amravati division Lokesh Chandra, who now heads the Vasantrao Naik mission implementing the special relief packages, failed to satisfy the court.

Coming down heavily on the government, the court sought all relevant details regarding the state’s policy for cotton growers like the credit flow, recovery of loans, beneficiaries of the interest waiver under the PM’s package. The court wanted to know if the distressed farmers had access to farm loan and the scale of finance in the six districts as compared to other parts of the state. The court has directed the principal secretary (rehab) to file the detailed affidavit elaborating on the government policy to mitigate the cotton growers’ plight.

The PIL, filed by Tiwari, contended that the state officials had failed to comply with the directions issued by the courts earlier. As a result, the ground situation had only deteriorated and at least 1,875 farmers had committed suicide in the region. The bouncing of a cheque of Rs 10,000 issued from PMO’s relief fund to a farmer’s widow recently was cited as an example of the government’s lackadaisical approach to the crisis. When the counsel pointed to many shortcomings in implementation of the relief packages, the court asked the state to file an affidavit within ten days.

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