Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Seeking aid, state gets a task force-Shubhangi Khapre / DNA

Seeking aid, state gets a task force

Shubhangi Khapre / DNA
Tuesday, July 7, 2009 2:36 IST

Mumbai: Union finance minister Pranab Mukherjee's decision to constitute a task force to ascertain the number of farmers not covered in the loan waiver package came as a blow to the Congress-led Democratic Front (DF) government in the state.
Another committee probing the cause of farmers' plight would expose the inept functioning of the government. The state cabinet was expecting more financial aid instead. A senior cabinet minister said, "Instead of giving financial assistance to the state to sustain the farmers' package, the Centre seems to be more keen to scrutinise the administrative affairs of the DF government." What he stopped short of saying was that the Centre's study would bring to light how, in spite of the bailout package, private moneylenders continue to exploit the hapless farmers.

Chief minister Ashok Chavan said, "Sensing that the Centre's package did not reach all, we have already initiated the process of loan waiver with a Rs6,208-crore package. It will benefit 40 lakh farmers in the state." The statistics though look more impressive on paper than in reality.

Kishore Tiwari, an activist fighting for the farmers, said "Both Centre and state may have released huge packages, but none has translated into relief for the distressed farmers. They are still committing suicide in the cotton growing belt." A senior secretary in state agriculture department said, "Of the total Rs71,000 crore loan waiver, the state share was around Rs14,000 crore. The maximum benefit went to western Maharashtra -- Rs 7,000 crore. The distressed Vidarbha could only avail Rs2,000 crore."

Economic expert Devendra Fadnavis, who is a BJP MLA, said, "The task force is just an eyewash. From Vaidyanathan to Jadhav committee, we already haveJustify Full half a dozen study on the farmers' plight in Maharashtra. Why can't the government streamline the delivery system instead of promising package on papers." He blamed Centre for the continued exploitation by money lenders. "The state can crack down on them only after the money lenders Bill is passed in Parliament."

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