BJP demands loan waiver for farmers, irrespective of holdings

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New Delhi, Jun 11 (UNI) Stating that a majority of farmers would be untouched by the loan waiver scheme of Finance Minister P Chidambaram, the BJP today demanded a waiver of minimum of Rs 50,000 to all farmers, irrespective of their holdings and also asked the government to relax the two-hectare ceiling for becoming eligible for the waiver.

A resolution to this effect was taken at the meeting of the BJP Kissan Morcha office bearers held here this morning to study the multi-dimensional challenges before the Indian agriculture and indebtedness of the farmers which is threatening to grow beyond all solutions and packages offered by the government. The interest rate should be brought down to four per cent to make the loans affordable to the farmers, it said.

Briefing newspersons after the meeting, senior BJP leader M Venkaiah Naidu said 200 farmers in Maharashtra had committed suicide after the announcement of the loan waiver, while another 110 had died in Andhra Pradesh. ''Our studies show that a majority of the farmers was still out of the waiver net for a number of reasons,'' he added.

Firstly, the government had refused to acknowledge the difference between dry and wet lands. If the farmer cultivated any extra land, even on lease, as par the regular practice, he would be denied the waiver benefits. Loan migration was taking place from banks to private lenders and their lendings had increased by 12 per cent after the waiver announcement, he said, quoting the National Sample Survey Organisation studies.

There were other practical problems like the lands were recorded in the names of the parents, while the children cultivated separately, but the entire family was denied the waiver benefits as their collective holdings exceeded the prescribed limit.

There were also instances where the farmers had repaid their interests to avail the continued loan facility, but they too would be denied of benefits because it was for a defaulter.

On the fertiliser crisis, he said it was because of the lack of foresight and proper planning on the part of the UPA Government, which had shown no concern for the farmers. ''The Government had utterly failed to make available fertilisers to the states, resulting in protests across the country.

It had failed to announce the pricing and freight policy, leading to the present situation. The shortage was also due to uncertainty over the subsidy policy,'' he added.

UNI MCN/KAS SBC KN1802

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