Dhumal urges Centre to remove debt relief 'anomalies'

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Shimla, Jul 3 (UNI) Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal has sought removal of 'anomalies' in the Centre's Agriculture Debt Waiver and Debt Relief Scheme.

In a letter written to Union Finance Minister P Chidambaram, the Chief Minister pointed out that in a number of cases, under the provisions of the scheme, many beneficiaries would be deprived of availing the benefits unless necessary amendments were carried and restrictions of reimbursement to the credit institutions removed.

''Himachal Pradesh is a hilly state where farmers have limited land holdings and majority of them are small and marginal farmers.

Over 90 per cent of the state population is directly or indirectly dependent upon agriculture and horticultural activities for their sustenance,'' he said.

He said the Debt Relief Scheme would be of utmost use to the farmers of the state only with the necessary modifications in the provisions and removal of the anomalies under the Agriculture Debt Waiver and Debt Relief Scheme.

The Chief Minister said the primary agriculture cooperative societies needed to be permitted full reimbursement of the rate of interest over the loans it had disbursed to the farmers for the year 2006-07 as also prior to the period.

He said the societies had disbursed crop loans to the farmers out of its own funds on an average interest of 10 per cent, with 2 per cent penal interest on default, whereas under the scheme only 7 per cent interest had been allowed to be reimbursed leaving funding societies in loss of 3 to 5 percent interest rate.

Mr Dhumal said the scheme had not covered the loans advanced for the purpose subservient to agriculture such as construction of cow sheds, packing and grading houses, fencing, power tillers and rural godowns etc which needed to be brought under the fold of the scheme to benefit the farmers of the state.

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