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BJP seeks a separate Agro budget, 4 pc interest on agro loans

Written by: Staff
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New Delhi, Aug 24 (UNI) The Bharatiya Janata Party today suggested that the Government make provision for a separate budget for agriculture as done in the case of the Railways for proper growth of the sector and to tide over the problems of the farming community.

The suggestion was made by former Union Minister Anant Kumar while resuming the debate under Rule 193 over the widespread distress among the farmers in the country.

Noting that the Government had itself expressed concern over the spate of suicides by farmers in the past few years and cited many reasons, like indebtedness, natural calamities and failure of crops, he said it was necessary that the Government think of bringing out a separate budget for agriculture sector.

The BJP leader however said that ''wrong policies and wrong approach'' were responsible for agrarian crisis being witnessed by the country today.

Mr Kumar said there was need to follow the suggestion put forward by Sir Chhotu Ram, former agriculture minister of undivided Punjab, that the farmers should not be made to pay interest more than the principal amount.

Besides he had also suggested that there should never be more than four per cent interest on agricultural loans, Mr Kumar said, adding that when even Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar was on record to say that the Government of India wanted to reduce interest rate on agricultural loans to four per cent, then why it had not been able to do so till now.

Mr Kumar said it was not sufficient to fix Minimum Support Price (MSP), but the duty of the Government to buy the produce of the farmers.

He regretted that merely 0.35 per cent of the budget was being spent on irrigation which was one of the major components of agriculture. He also reminded the minister of the project of inter-linking of rivers initiated by former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. ''If it was further pursued, it would able to solve irrigation problem in many parts of the country,'' he maintained.

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