UNENDING HARDSHIPS FOR VIDARBHA FARMERS
Waiver: Farm activists not enthused
Ramu Bhagwat | TNN
Nagpur: “I am completely satisfied with the new Rs 6208 crore relief package for farmers announced by chief minister Ashok Chavan,” Pune University vice chancellor Narendra Jadhav, who as a one-man commission studied the agriculture crisis in the state and presented his report to the state government five months ago, told ToI on Wednesday.
Following reports of unending farmer suicides, especially in Vidarbha region even after implantation of the CM-PM packages totalling Rs 5,000 crore, the state had appointed Jadhav, who is also an economist, to study the situation. In his report submitted to the cabinet on July 24, Jadhav was unsparing about the lapses in the implementation of the PM-CM packages and also the Central loan waiver for farmers announced in the last Union budget and upgraded subsequently to Rs 71,000 crore waiver package.
“The Chavan government has kept its word. On December 28, at a highlevel meeting held in Nagpur, Chavan gave me a commitment that 19 of the recommendations contained in my report would be considered favourably. I am happy that 13 of my suggestions are being implemented and the remaining six are at an advanced stag e of consideration,” Jadhav said. He refused to comment on the downgrading of his recommendation of waiver to the tune of Rs 50,000 across the board to all farmers to Rs 20,000.
Meanwhile, the opposition as well as farmers’ activists have found nothing to enthuse in the Rs 6,208 crore package the CM announced on Tuesday at the fag end of the legislature’s winter session here. “Instead of targeting most distressed farmers of Vidarbha, the new package once again is inclusive for all regions, even areas which deserve no government largesse,” said Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti president Kishore Tiwari.
“More unfortunately, the package is silent on addressing basic problems like farm infrastructure spending, providing much needed food security to the economically stressed, improving credit flow even as figures suggest total reluctance on the part of the bankers to provide loans to those who joined the list of the eligible courtesy the Central loan waiver,” Tiwari rued.
“The official figures are give-away. The chief minister has stated on the floor of the House that that the Central loan waiver in Maharashtra was to the tune of Rs 7,800 crore. When the scheme was announced, Maharashtra was supposed to get Rs 11,680 crore as its share in the waiver pie. This makes it clear that the one-time settlement part was hardly availed of by farmers so the shortfall of Rs 5,000 crore,” explained Tiwari.
“Even the education aid is too meagre. Paying for education of children after 12th standard is costly. But the government has agreed to pay for school fee only and not higher education. Also the help promised for critically ill is vague as the government is not ready to accept the most authentic report of March 2006, the first of its kind door-to-door survey in Vidarbha’s six distressed districts which identified nearly a lakh of families with critically ill members. These families hardly get any health care in villages and can’s afford costly medical treatment available in cities. Now the government will undertake a fresh survey for this purpose, Tiwari pointed out.
“One of the reasons for BJP retaining power in MP was imaginative scheme like providing Rs 30,000 per family for a farmer’s daughter’s marriage. But Chavan has failed to emulate it. There are 3.3 lakh families with marriageable daughters in the six districts The mass marriage scheme we have has been hit by fraud and privileges class getting the benefits,” Tiwari alleged. “The new package may also meet the same fate as the earlier ones which miserably failed to remove the distress,” he concluded.