Achuthanandan refutes Antony's statement on farmers' relief package

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Thiruvananthapuram, Nov 13 (UNI) Kerala Chief Minister V S Achuthanandan today refuted Defence Minister A K Antony's allegation that the State Government had not availed the relief package for farmers and said the statement could have been made because of ''guilty conscience'' on the Minister's part.

''The procurement price for rice was increased by just 50 paise, whereas the procurement price of wheat was increased by Rs 1.50. The Centre, of which Mr Antony is a part, has shown discrimination towards the State,'' he said in a statement here.

Regarding import of palmolein, the Centre had denied the State Government's plea of banning its import, affecting thousands of coconut farmers across the State. ''What has Mr Antony got to say about all these,'' he asked.

Even though there were three Union Ministers from Kerala, Mr Achuthanandan alleged that they were not doing anything for the benefit of the farmers in the State. ''It may be guilty conscience that has made Mr Antony make such a statement,'' he averred.

Alleging that it was during Mr Antony's tenure as Chief Minister that the State faced the worst crisis in the agriculture sector, he said it was the then Congress-led Government which had tried to hide facts from the Centre regarding farmers' suicides and allowed the relief package to lapse. It was only after the LDF Government came to power that the issue was taken up with the Centre, he added.

The Government was able to pursue the Centre for getting a Vidarbha model package for the districts of Wayanad, Palakkad and Kasargod. The Swaminathan Commission, which looked into farmers' problems in Idukki and Kuttanad areas, had submitted its recommendations and the projects as per the Kuttanad package were ready and the Centre had to release money, Mr Achuthanandan said.

Moreover, the Rs 360 crore of the Rs 765 crore Vidarbha model package sanctioned by the Centre had been utilised, he said, adding that the State was in the forefront of implementing the package.

UNI

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