UP refuses to waive farmers' loans in drought-hit Bundelkhand

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Lucknow, Dec 5 (UNI) The Uttar Pradesh government today refused refused to waive the farmers' loans in the drought affected districts, while admitting that the drought situation in Bundelkhand was serious.

''Orders have been issued to halt recovery of farmers' loans and Rs 118 crore sanctioned to provide compensation to small and marginal farmers,'' said state parliamentary affairs minister Lalji Verma in the Assembly.

However, the Samajwadi Party members staged a noisy walkout following the government rejection to outright waive such loans.

The government also refuted media reports about starvation deaths and suicide by farmers in the region, while the oppposition members waived newspapers' copies to draw the attention of the chair to the problems of the farmers.

Replying to an adjournment motion over the drought situation in seven districts of Bundelkhand and in Mirzapur and Sonebhadra districts, the minister said the state government had already hiked the minimum compensation for the farmers from Rs 250 to Rs 1,000, while day-to-day review was being done to assess the situation.

He said a total of 11.50 lakh farmers would be given compensation in the drought-hit areas, while a special package had been sought from the Centre to deal with the situation as was done in Vidharbha.

State Irrigation Minister Naseemuddin Siddique said for the last four years, the rainfall in Bundelkhand area was less than average and this year the situation was more serious.

The members while raising the issue blamed the government for ignoring the plight of farmers and demanded the officials be taken to task for not implementing the development schemes.

They alleged that farmers were being jailed for default on loan repayment and other government revenue heads.

Congress member Pradeep Jain Aditya went on to say the farmers would be forced to come on the streets against the government apathy.

Meanwhile during another adjournment motion, state Agriculture Minister Choudhury Laxmi Narain said a high level team of the central agricultural ministry would visit Bundelkhand to review the situation and recommend steps to uplift the overall status of the farmers.

Giving a clear picture of the UP agriculture scenario, he admitted that only 60 per cent sowing of wheat had been completed so far due to scanty rainfall.

''There is no fertiliser or seed shortage, but due to negative climatic condition, the situation was not conducive for farmers,'' he added.

Earlier, the members blamed the state government for the blackmarketing of fertilisers and seeds and alleged that although there was enough supply of fertilisers, it was only available through the back door at high rates.

UNI

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