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Bestow industry status on agriculture: LS

Written by: Staff
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New Delhi, May 17 (UNI) Alarmed over the unabated farmers' suicide in '' almost'' every state, Lok Sabha members today asked the UPA government to take immediate steps, including conferring status of industry on agriculture, an assured income for farmers, improving irrigation and cheapen agricultural inputs, to check the crisis.

The members, cutting across the political spectrum, made a forceful and passionate appeal to the Manmohan Singh government to give top priority to tackling the agrarian crisis, which had arisen out of ''entering into a faulty agreement with the WTO which did not allow a level playing field to Indian farmers''.

Initiating the discussion, Ramji Lal Suman(SP) said the suicides by farmers had been reported from Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala and Maharashtra, ''but the farmers condition is also equally miserable in Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana, Madhy Pradesh, Rajasthan and Orissa''.

Mr Suman, while making a strong case for prioritising the thrust areas to contain the agrarian crisis, said the government should complete without further delay as many as 139 irrigation projects in various parts of the country, prepare Centre's budget focused on agriculture, give status of industry to agriculture and ensure remunerative prices of agriculture produce.

Endorsing Mr Suman's suggestions and observations, Kishan Singh Sangwan (BJP) said the successive governments had not paid the desired attention to the worsening farmers' plight.

''Today, over 46 per cent farmers of the country have fallen prey to the debt trap,'' he said.

Mr Sangwan made a case for finding an urgent solution to the ongoing water disputes among states so as to ensure the provision of irrigation facilities to farmers. He also regretted while the government had thought it fit to provide Rs 1,40,000 crore for food processing during the next ten years, no such scheme had been made for the agriculture sector The members also asked Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar, who was present during the discussion, to explain the reasons for the government's decision to import wheat. They complained that the wheat was being imported at the rate of Rs 970 per quintal, while the government was unwilling to pay this amount to its farmers. They were being given only Rs 650 per quintal.

Adhir Choudhry(Cong) said the ways and means would have to be devised to ensure an assured income for the farmers. ''Mere Minimum Support Price will not do.'' Claiming that the Second Green Revolution, initiated by the government, would go a long way in mitigating the sufferings of farmers, Mr Choudhry suggested increasing the knowledge base of farmers against a backdrop of revolution in the IT sector.

The members also urged the government to ensure 14-15 hour-power supply for farmers, better market facilities for agricultural produce, and also enact a new law to ensure that the amount of interest on farmers' loans did not exceed two times on the principle amount.

MORE UNI KSA RL HT1815

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