Ludhiana farmers welcome Union Budget

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Laltonkalan (Punjab), July 6 (ANI): Farmers of Laltonkalan village in Ludhiana district of Punjab have praised the Union Budget unveiled by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee on Monday, which focuses on increased spending on farmers and the poor.

The scheme for the below poverty line families that promises rice at rupees 3 per kilogram has been especially appreciated by the farmers.

"The scheme for the yellow card holders, (below poverty line people), as per which they would get 25 kilograms of rice at rupees 3 per kilogram, is good," said Bhupinder Singh, a farmer.

To the relief of farmers, in view of delay in monsoon, the debt waiver scheme announced during 2008-09 budget would be extended till December 31, 2009. The Rs 71,000 crore scheme ended in June 2009.

The interest scheme for the short-term crop loans to the farmers for loans up to Rs 300,000 per farmer will be at the interest rate of 7 percent per annum.

This year the government shall pay an additional subvention of 1 percent as an incentive to those farmers who repay their short-term crop loan on schedule. The interest rate of these farmers will come down to 6 percent per annum.

"The farmers have got a budget that they had hoped for. Like the loans have been waived. Farmers were in distress; some even committed suicide, as the loans were increasing. Both small and big farmers will benefit from this budget," said Amarinder Singh, a farmer.

The finance minister has also announced an allocation of Rs 39,100 crore for the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) in 2009-10, an increase of 144%.

The government has also committed to providing a wage of Rs.100 a day to rural households in convergence with other schemes for rural areas. One hundred and fifteen pilot districts have been identified for these convergence schemes.

"The NREGA scheme will be helpful; the villages will get allocations for village development. The villages will progress," said Kuldeep Singh, another farmer.

The government also hiked the target of agricultural credit for 2009-10 to Rs 3,25,000 crore. (ANI)

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