MK urges Sonia to waive farm loans

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Chennai, Feb 22 (UNI) Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi today came to the rescue of farmers in the country and he urged AICC president Sonia Gandhi to waive farmers' debts and reduce interest rate on farm loans.

In a statement here, Mr Karunanidhi, referring to farmers' delegations calling on Ms Gandhi pleading for loan waiver, said he was also recommending the demand which he strongly believed, would be conceded by her.

Farmers' representatives from various parts of the country had placed their demand to waive the debts at a time when the Union Budget for the year 2008-09 is to be presented.

Ms Gandhi, who had great faith and respect for democracy, would approve the demand, he said.

Soon after coming to power in May 2006, the DMK government set a precedent by waiving farm loans to the tune of Rs 7,000 crore, availed by farmers from various co-operative banks in the State.

The DMK government 'created history' becoming the first State in the country to waive loans to the tune of Rs 7,000 crore, he claimed, adding that after witnessing 'the precedent set by the government,' farmers in many other States started demanding similar waivers.

This culminated in delegations of farmers from various States calling on Ms Gandhi yesterday with a demand to waive debts, reduce the interest rate on farm loans and announce remunerative prices for farm products, he said.

Apart from waiving loans, the DMK government had also brought down the interest rate on farm loans from nine per cent to seven per cent and last year from seven per cent to five per cent, he said.

After waiving the loans, the government issued fresh farm loans to the tune of Rs 1,153 crore during 2006-07 and Rs 1,360 crore during 2007-08, it announced a crop insurance scheme to benefit ten lakh farmers in the State, Mr Karunanidhi said.


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