Monday, July 6, 2009

Farm leaders hail budget-Times of India

Printed from

Farm leaders hail budget

7 Jul 2009, 0349 hrs IST, team toi

NAGPUR: Finance minister Pranab Mukherjee's budget announcement of a task force to find a way out for farmers reeling under debts taken from private moneylenders has brought new hope to the distressed farmers of the suicide-hit Vidarbha region. Though welcoming the massive allocation of funds for farm credit, rural health mission and rural housing, farm leaders say all now depends on the delivery system, which is known to be extremely weak and leaky.

"A large number of families stand to gain, since those who had borrowed from moneylenders were not eligible for any loan waiver or compensation in case of farmer's suicide. The task force can suggest remedial measures," said farm leader Vijay Jawandhiya of Wardha. "However, many announcements in the Union budget appear cosmetic and may benefit farmers only if the schemes are properly implemented."

Jawandhiya also said that the six-month extension granted for availing one-time settlement under the Centre's loan waiver scheme was inadequate, and it should have been a one-year extension. "The harvest season is more than six months away, how can the farmer make 25% upfront payment before harvest to avail the relief," asked Jawandhiya.

Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti president Kishore Tiwari termed the Union budget as a mixed bag. While appreciating a few points, he said, "There's nothing special for distressed farmers of rain-fed Vidarbha region, nor was there an effort to promote food crops," said Tiwari.

"The issue of moneylenders has been addressed for the first time. A large number of farmers ended their lives as they were unable to bear the fleecing interest rates charged by the village 'sahukar', who humiliated the borrower or took over the land in lieu of the unpaid loans. Also, such farmers' suicides were not eligible for the Rs 1 lakh government compensation," explained Tiwari.

State BJP president Nitin Gadkari said there was nothing in the Union budget for the farmers. "With agriculture in dire straits, what was needed was a separate budget for the sector," he said, "but beyond hollow promises like the task force on moneylenders the budget is a big let down."

"It may not be a please-all budget. But under the given circumstances - a looming slowdown and fall in tax revenues - Pranab Mukherjee has done a satisfactory job of fulfilling election promises," said former minister and veteran Congress leader Ranjit Deshmukh.

"An opportunity to attract global investment after the slowdown in developed countries has been squandered away by the Union finance minister," said city BJP MLA Devendra Fadnavis. "For the first time after 1990, the high deficit of 6.8% is worrisome and may derail the country's economy."

No comments: