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Farmers in distress, govt clueless

At a time when several farmers’ organisations have called for 10-day agitation in several states across the country to demand loan waiver and implementation of the Swaminathan Commission recommendations, political leaders are busy issuing controversial statements. Union Farm Minister Radha Mohan Singh stated that the farmers are protesting for getting media attention. Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar too made insensitive remarks against the farmers. He stated, “There is no issue. By saying they won’t sell farmers’ produce, they’ll only cause losses to the farmers.” The Modi government had promised to double the income of the farmers by 2022 but no initiative has been taken by them for achieving it.

Congress leader Bhai Jagtap said, “After coming to the power, the Modi government had announced that farmers will be debt-free. Even though the government had announced the loan waiver scheme but farmers didn’t derive benefit out of it. Irrespective of whichever party is in power, if they make promises, then it is their duty to fulfil and offer right price to the farmers.”

“Government is spending crores of rupees on the advertisements; hence, farmers are miffed with them and protesting. Radha Mohan Singh has been known for issuing controversial statements against the farmers. BJP has become arrogant after gaining power,” he added.

The government also had announced that it will offer Minimum Support Price (MSP) at 1.5 times of the production cost and assured farmers that all major costs incurred will be included while declaring the support price but farmers are yet to receive any benefit out of this scheme. Thus, a question which arises here is that, are all the schemes announced by the government just remain restricted on paper? Is the government really bothered about the welfare of farmers or only pay lip service to the problems faced by them? Often it has been observed that the government rake up the farmers’ issue merely for gaining political mileage. Even opposition parties are attacking the government over this issue just to settle political scores. Farmers had voted for BJP in 2014 as Narendra Modi while campaigning for polls had promised to resolve the problems faced by them. If the government fails to address the agrarian crisis, then it may have an impact on its performance in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.

President of Akhil Bhartiya Kisan Sabha Dr. Ashok Dhawale said that we are yet to receive any kind of response from the government pertaining to our demands. “The government has started implementing some of the promises made to us after the Kisan Long March; however, many other demands remain unfulfilled.”

“The milk procurement prices have fallen to Rs 17 from Rs 27; therefore, farmers are undergoing problems. On June 1, we had held a protest outside Collector’s office where thousands of farmers gathered. We are yet to decide about our next course of action but farmers will take to streets from June 10 if our demand remains unfulfilled.”

Nearly 70 per cent of India’s 90 million agricultural house-holds spend more than what they earn each month as their debt continues to rise due to decline in savings. As per National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) data, around 85 per cent of all the operational farm holdings in the country are lesser than 2 hectares in size. Farmers have been unable to repay the loans availed by them due to crop failure and drought. There has been a rise in incidents of farmer suicides in the country. According to the National Crime Records Bureau, 8,007 farmers and 4,595 agricultural labours ended their lives in 2015. Maharashtra topped the list with 4,291 suicides, followed by Karnataka with 1,569, Telangana 1,400, Madhya Pradesh 1,290, Chhattisgarh 954, Andhra Pradesh 916 and Tamil Nadu 606. These seven states accounted for 87.5 per cent of the total suicides witnessed in the agricultural sector in the country.

Shiv Sena spokesperson Neelam Gorhe said, “The government lacks political will to address the concern of the farmers. They are yet to effectively implement minimum support price to farmers. The government has failed to come up with a policy to curb farmers’ suicides. Loan waiver scheme amount has not been transferred to farmers’ accounts.”

The Maharashtra government’s Rs 34,000 crore farm loan waiver has been plagued by several loopholes. The government had started Aadhaar based linking of farmers to identify duplication and weed out fake beneficiaries. However, glitches were observed in the system as more than 100 farmers were found linked to a single Aadhaar number. Moreover, names of some farmers were missing and some did not match with the land records.

BJP spokesperson Shirish Boralkar said that this is the only government which has addressed the problems of farmers. “If farmers go on agitation then it will only cause hardships to the common man. Governments also agreed to implement the recommendations of Swaminathan Commission. The government successfully implemented Jalyukt Shivar Yojana as 12,000 villages became drought-free. Even Food Security Act has been implemented as 68 lakh farmers have derived benefit out of it.”

Meanwhile, farmers continued to disperse milk and throw vegetables on streets in several states of the country. There has been a sharp decline in vegetables and fruits reaching urban areas. Retail prices of vegetables have already increased by Rs 10-20 per kg in several cities thereby causing inconvenience to the common man.

 

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