Govt. to soon announce package on farmers' indebtedness: PM

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New Delhi, Dec 19 (UNI) Expressing concern over the growing indebtedness of farmers, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today said the government would shortly announce a scheme to address the issue.

''The Finance Minister, in consultation with the Agriculture Minister, is finalising a scheme for addressing the issue of debt burden of farmers. The details of this will be announced shortly,'' Dr Singh said in his closing remarks at the 54th meeting of the National Deevelopment Council (NDC).

The Prime Minister shared the concern of many states on the subject and noted that the government had appointed the Radhakrishnan Committee to examine the problem.

The committee had submitted its report, he said.

Dr Singh also announced constitution of a Task Force in the Planning Commission to specifically look into the problems of hill states. He said the committee would suggest ways in which these states do not suffer in any way because of their peculiarities.

''Many of the smaller hill states have raised problems unique to their geography. They have specific connectivity, transport and infrastructure problems. Norms applicable to the rest of the country are not easily relevant to them.'' About the huge requirements of infrastructure development, the Prime Minister said the Public Private Partnership (PPP) approach was only a supplement to public investments and wherever the approach would face difficulty, the Centre would not hesitate to invest directly.

Responding to the widespread concern about the slow relewase of funds under the Rajiv Gandhi Grameen Vidyut Yojana, Dr Singh said he would direct the Power Ministry to accelerate the sanctioning process.

He asked the Planning Commission to ensure that adequate resources are made available to meet the tragets of rural electrification.

Referring to the concerns about delay in clearances for projects, he said this was a problem which was common to the states and Central agencies as well as the industries.

''I will request the Finance Minister to constitute an Expert Group to go into the system of statutory clearances for industrial and infrastructure projects and suggest concrete ways for speeding these up,'' he said.

Talking about the consensus among states on the need for accelerating the current pace of irrigation projects, Dr Singh annonced that a Task Force would be constituted in the Planning Commission to comprehensively examine the resource requirements for expanding irrigation and identifying a new approach to implementing these projects.

The Task Force would identify innovative ways of raising resources, designing projects and impleneting them so that irrigation potential is rapidly achieved, he said.

He said the government had designed a forward-looking, liberal relief and rehabilitation policy and necessary amendments were being mde to the laws. This would enable a fair compensation to be paid to all displaced persons, he added.

UNI

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