Farm loan waiver too little, disappointing: BJP

June 12th, 2008 - 1:15 am ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, June 11 (IANS) The farm loan waiver the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government announced in the budget for relief to small and marginal farmers was “too little, too disappointing”, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) said Wednesday. “The farm loan waiver announced by the UPA government is too little, too disappointing and does not address the concerns of farmers. It falls short in many ways as was pointed out by the BJP and even Congress MPs in parliament,” said M. Venkaiah Naidu, former president of the BJP.

“The agrarian crisis is spreading and rural indebtedness is increasing. This is a life and death situation for farmers,” Naidu told reporters after office-bearers of the Kisan Morcha, BJP’s sister organisation working with farmers’ issues, held a meeting to discuss the UPA’s policies for farmers.

Finance Minister P. Chidambaram announced the farm loan waiver of Rs.600 billion during the union budget presentation Feb 29.

“More than 200 farmers have committed suicide in Maharashtra and 110 in Andhra Pradesh after the farm loan waiver was announced. Only 18 of these 200 farmers in Maharashtra were eligible for the loan waiver as many conditions have been fixed for availing it,” Naidu said.

The BJP demanded that conditions like the upper limit of land holding of two and half hectares, waiving of only those loans which were taken from commercial banks and not from private moneylenders, and having farmland in one’s own name should be done away with.

“Only 30 percent of the farmers have taken loans from the banks. The National Sample Survey (NSS) data shows that the number of those taking loans from banks has gone down by eight percent in recent years,” Naidu said.

“Moreover, farmers having 10 hectares of land in drought-prone areas like Bundelkhand, Vidarbha and Chhattisgarh are worse off than those having two hectares in fertile regions like Punjab,” Naidu pointed out, arguing that farm productivity should also be taken into consideration.

Pointing out that there was a serious crisis due to short supply of fertilisers, he blamed the situation on the “lack of foresight” of the UPA government.

He said the BJP would hold farmers’ courts across the country starting this month to check how the government schemes for agriculture were being implemented.

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