Sunday, March 30, 2008

77 farmers suicides in Vidarbha after Chidambaram's farm loan waiver

77 farmers suicides in Vidarbha after Chidambaram's farm loan waiver

Ch. Narendra 30/3/2008 11:16:57 AM(IST)

Finance Minister P Chidambaram''s loan waiver package to the extent of Rs.60,000/- crore in the union budget failed to put an end to the miseries of the farming community. The Vidarbha region of Maharashtra, which has been witnessing huge number of farm suicides during last couple of years, the package failed to create confidence among farmers.

After Chidambaram's package announcement, as many of 77 farmers committed suicide in this region till March 29. Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samithi (VJAS) president Kishor Tiwari said that they were shocked due sudden rise in farm suicides in fact prevailing distress among the million of vidarbha cotton farmers is known to administration too. Daily about six farm suicides are reporting, he added.

He said they have been demanding minimum food security and health care and rural employment or direct subsidy to dying farmers in order to stop these on going farm suicides but nobody is ready even look at our demands,

VJAS has asked Indian prime minister Dr Manmohan Singh to have integrated formula to tackle Vidarbha agrarian distress which is like wise It pleas include:

1-Resotretion of cotton advance bonus that price of Rs.2700/- per quintal as promised by UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi at the time of Maharashtra assembly election 2004 as congress-Ncp govt. stopped advance bonus and brought down cotton price from rs.2500/- per quintal to rs.18oo per quintal in year 05-06 and 06-07.

2-Providing fresh credit from institutional bank to all debt trapped farmers mostly from private money lenders and to provide 5 year credit cycle as asked by NCF.

3-Provide food crop promotion incentive to Vidarbha cotton farmers.

4-Complete ban on chemical advance genetic farming methods as it's failed to give feasible and profitable cash crop pattern moreover it's high cost high risk has increased distress in vidarbha farmers resulting much more farm suicide prior to GM cotton seed commercial trials permission that before year 2005 in vidarbha.

5-There is no concrete investment plan both from Indian and Maharashtra govt. To provide value addition to cotton crop at local level ,more option for secondary support system revival, not a single plan of agro processing network .

6-There is no paln to have direct protection from market forces to the cash crop cultivating farmers on cost stabilization front.

7-No plan to set up the regulator to control cost and quality of input and exploitation from forward trading in commodity market.

8-There is no relief is given as per food security and health care and educational fees help to ward of distressed farmers, direct govt. employment to one person from distressed farming family.

Tiwari said that they have been demanding these basic demands since June 2005, but failed to get single relief resulting more than 5,000 farm suicides. Every time relief packages are given but beneficiaries are all the time other than Vidarbha dying farmers.

They moved High Court, Human Rights Commission, President of India, World Bank, United Nations and top politicians and officials in the country. But failed to save dying Vidarbha farmers. Now all farm activists in Vidarbha region are in deep distress and openly admitting their failure to save innocent victimisation of cotton farmer and mass genocide resulted due to free trade and heavy subsidies given by US government to American cotton farmers, Tiwari added.

After big loan waiver of Indian govt. failed to provide any debt relief to more than 90% Vidarbha cotton farmers due it's upper cap to 2 hector and cut off date being 30th march, 2007 as it was expected that next being election year Maharashtra govt. would restore cotton price or announce the Rs.2000 per hector subsidy to cotton farmers.

However, Maharashtra finance minister Jayant Patil failed to address this long pending important issue. Kishor Tiwaris said that amount shown for irrigation project is part of Vidarbha backlog and included in the AIBP, which can not be treated as relief.

According to Tiwari, the Vidarbha region has witnessed the more than 20,000 of suicides by debt-ridden farmers in the last ten years of Congress-NCP govt.

However, he said the issue of farm suicides is not being addressed due apathy of political parties and negative attitude of babus in the administration as even though state has shown the surpluses of Rs.400 crore in state budget but failed to relief aid such as food security, health care, food crop incentives free education to ward of distressed cotton farmers in order to stop on going farm suicides in region.

Maharashtra govt has not taken any budgetary step to help debt trapped Vidarbha cotton farmers as "Close to 60 percent farmers in Vidarbha have a landholding of more than two hectares and most of them are in distress on the Maharashtra government's own admission and all such farmers in the region, which has witnessed a large number of suicides by debt-ridden farmers, would be deprived of the benefit announced by central govt " he added.

Pointing out the absence of provisions for increasing farmers' income, price stabilization and incentives for low-cost farming that would have signaled a beginning of the quest for a durable solution to the agrarian crisis, Tiwari also questioned Maharashtra govt,s silence over food security and rural health.

Earlier the annual budget presented by Chidambaram has a farm loan waiver provision of Rs.600 billion intended to extend the benefit to 40 million farmers across the country. The one-time settlement would cover marginal and small farmers whose loans were rescheduled last year. kishor Tiwari's also demanded that a loan waiver up to Rs 50,000 rather than up to two-hectare land holding would have been more appropriate.

"The two-hectare cap would mostly benefit the sugarcane and grape cultivators in western and southern Maharashtra who have smaller land holdings but large-income- yielding agriculture because of the irrigation facility available there," Tiwari added.

Kishor tiwari urged the UPA Government to restore advance bonus and give Rs.2700/- per quintal price as promised in the UPA manifesto."

Tiwari said most of the political parties are shedding crocodile's tears over the insult of cotton farmer but they are not talking about finding solution to redress the hardships of the Vidarbha farmers. Presently most of the farmers who are committing suicides are victims of poverty and hunger that has resulted after the economic collapse in the Vidarbha region due ongoing agrarian crisis.

"We demand urgent step to provide food security and health care facilities to these dying farmers before making arguments over farm suicides being agrarian or non-agrarian. Now the time has come to give complete loan waiver and price protection on all agriculture produce from free trade in WTO era to Vidarbha dying farmers", Tiwari added.

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