Free power, many goodies for farmers in Karnataka budget (With ‘Rs.18 bn for Bangalore’s upgrade in Karnataka budget’)

July 17th, 2008 - 7:57 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Bharatiya Janata Party

Bangalore, July 17 (IANS) The first Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in Karnataka Thursday announced free power for 1.5 million irrigation pumpsets (IP) and a host of sops to farmers across the state. Presenting the revised state budget for the fiscal 2008-09 in the legislative assembly here, Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa told a packed lower house that free power would be limited to irrigation pumpsets up to 10 horsepower and made available from Aug 1.

A subsidy of Rs.20.5 billion has been earmarked in the budget for free power supply to IP sets of farmers.

“As part of assurances given in our party manifesto to the people of Karnataka during the recently held assembly poll, farmers, weavers and fishermen will be sanctioned cooperative loans at three percent interest per annum,” Yeddyurappa said amidst thumping of desks by treasury members.

Similarly, milk producers will be given an incentive of Rs.2 per litre of milk and the state exchequer will bear the subsidy burden of Rs.1.2 billion.

Due to the failure of southwest monsoon across the state till date, five million small and marginal farmers dependent on dryland farming will be given a one-time benefit of Rs.1,000 per family to purchase seeds, fertilisers and other agriculture inputs.

“These farmers are facing hardship due to deficit monsoon in several parts of the state. To mitigate their suffering, financial support to the tune of Rs.5 billion will be provided to about five million farmers involved in dryland farming,” the chief minister, who also holds the finance portfolio, told the lawmakers.

In addition, Rs.5 billion has been allocated to the agriculture revolving fund.

“For the comprehensive development of agriculture and allied activities, a Karnataka agriculture mission will be set up under my chairmanship.

“Similarly, a special board will be constituted to promote organic farming across the state, with a financial aid of Rs.2,000 per family in about 1,000 villages,” Yeddyurappa said during his 90-minute budget speech.

Admitting that a low rate of agriculture growth in recent years had led to serious social and economic consequences in the state, including distress among farmers, the chief minister said cooperative loans to the tune of Rs.17.5 billion were waived during 2006-07 and 2007-08 to ease the debt burden of small and marginal farmers.

“For improving productivity in agriculture and horticulture, the revised budget for the farm sector has been increased by 64 percent to Rs.19.74 billion from Rs.16.03 billion in the previous fiscal (2007-08),” Yeddyurappa noted.

An integrated plan will be prepared and implemented to rejuvenate about 36,000 water bodies across the state on the lines of the Jalasamvardhane Yojane - a water development scheme.

A Karnataka water resources regulation authority will be formed to regulate and manage the scarce natural resources for irrigation and drinking water supply.

As part of pro-rural programmes, the budget proposes to pay a monthly honorarium to about 90,000 gram panchayats or village councils across the state.

For rural development, the total outlay has been increased to Rs.34 billion from Rs.30.6 billion in the last fiscal. Of this, Rs.6.85 billion has been allocated for the development of rural roads. Similarly, Rs.8.79 billion has been earmarked for rural drinking water supply schemes.

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