MPs team to visit rural areas to probe agricultural crisis: Pawar

December 19th, 2011 - 7:20 pm ICT by IANS  

Pranab Mukherjee New Delhi, Dec 19 (IANS) A special committee of parliamentarians will visit the rural areas to fathom agricultural distress in the country, Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar said Monday.

Replying to a debate in the Rajya Sabha on agricultural crisis and farmers’ suicides, Pawar said the step was necessary to adjudge the ground situation.

“Unless we go to villages, visit families, we can not come to a conclusion. It will be a great service to the country,” he said.

Earlier, intervening in the debate, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee said banks have been instructed to provide Kisan (farmer) Credit Cards and gaps in providing aid to farmers need to be filled.

The minister said loans at the lower interest rate of four percent were also being given to some farmers.

“So far as the rate of interest is concerned, the demand was that it should be brought to 4 percent, but we have not been able to bring it universally. Those who are paying in time, they are entitled to have 4 percent rate of interest for this year,” he said.

To this, Bharatiya Janata Party leader M. Venkaiah Naidu demanded four percent interest rate to be universalised.

Mukherjee, however, said the economic condition did not allow for this step.

“Today, you have to keep in mind the fiscal position … it will not be possible at this juncture of economy to make it universal … as and when situation improves, things could be considered,” he said.

Mukherjee’s presence during the reply to the debate was demanded by opposition members, who contended that agriculture minister alone cannot solve the problem of farmers.

The upper house was also adjourned till 2 p.m. from around 12.30 p.m., when the members demanded the finance minister’s presence during the reply.

Responding to the demands of the member, Pawar also said that a separate budget for agriculture will not be practical.

The minister added that the data on farmers’ suicides has been conflicting as information provided by the National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB) does not match with the reports sent by the state governments.

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