Sunday, July 02, 2006

Rs. 3,750-crore relief package for Vidharbha

A Rs. 3,750-crore relief package for announced by the PM to tacle the agrarian crisis in Vidharbha. In addition, a special rehabilitation package will be launched in 31 districts of four States where farmers have committed suicide.

Highlights (from the above article)---
  1. Waiver of overdue interest: The waiver of interest would make farmers immediately eligible for fresh loans. The Centre and the State Governments would share this burden equally.
  2. Debt rescheduling: Rs. 1,296 crore of overdue loans as on June 30, 2006 would be rescheduled over a period of three to five years with a one-year moratorium.
  3. Increased credit flow: An additional credit flow of Rs. 1,275 crore in 2006-07 in the six districts.
  4. Rs. 2,177 crore for the completion of 524 major, medium and minor irrigation projects in these districts over the next three years. About 1.59 lakh hectares would be brought under irrigation.
  5. Rs. 180-crore Quality Seed Replacement Programme would be started so that the problem of good quality seeds was sorted out.
  6. The six districts would get Rs. 240 crore for watershed development, check dam construction and rainwater harvesting.
  7. Rs. 225 crore towards the National Horticulture Mission, which would cover all the six districts, including Buldhana, and the problems in orange cultivation would be addressed.
  8. A proposed programme costing Rs. 135 crore for improving cattle and fisheries activities---to reduce dependence on agriculture.

Now, the difficult part of implementing it!

The report also mentions the PM recognizing the need to move away from the focus on cash crops.

Also, there is mention of an experts group to look into the problem in totality. Wonder what happens to the reports prepared by the National Commission on Farmers.


Anonymous said...

Though the relief package is much needed, I am afarid its like a quick lunch time cosmetic surgerical procedure. Frustrating is the central and state government's resistance to revisit decisions and commitment to:

1)Policy issues such as
a) import of agricultural commodities like cotton and sugar
b) Monsanto and seed import: One reason behind the crisis of cotton growers in Maharashtra is that the seeds supplied by Monsanto through its subsidiary Mahyco have utterly failed in the Vidarbha region. In Andhra Pradesh also the cotton yields last year were reported to be much low despite Monsanto's lofty claims and there was total failure of cotton crop in 25,000 acres in Warangal where Monsanto's seeds were planted. The AP Government, under farmers' pressure, demanded Rs.3,000 compensation per acre from Mahyco-Monsanto which initially agreed but later refused. Monsanto is extorting monopoly prices from cotton farmers and the AP Government has already taken it to court under the MRTP Act and the Gujarat Government is desperately pleading with Monsanto for negotiations to reduce seeds prices. As against the approved sales price of Rs.604.20 per a seed packet of 450 grams, Monsanto GM cotton seeds are being sold for Rs.1,818 per packet. The Director General (Investigation & Registration) of Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practices Commission has recently pulled up Monsanto for overpricing its genetically modified Bt cotton seeds and issued an order not sell seeds at a high price and Monsanto has gone to the Supreme Court appealing against the MRTPC order. Both the NDA and the UPA governments have handed over the seeds business to MNCs but they have not met the demand of farmers' organisations for a legislation on liability of seeds corporations for crop failure which could force them to pay compensation.
c) Mahrastra's curtailing of the Monopoly Cotton Procurement Scheme
d) Scrapping free power scheme to farmers from June 1, 2005. Gujarat , Rajasthan, UP, Bihar , Madhya Pradesh, Haryana – it is the same sad story all over the wheat belt- reeling under power crisis the agricultural sectors is worst hit. All these states as well as Gujarat and Maharashtra supply only 6-8 hours of power to the agricultural pumpsets. The increase in diesel prices hits Hindi belt farmers the most as they are dependent on diesel pumpsets.

2)Unwillingness to book the private money lenders:

I guess the meeting with the widows made a deep impression on Dr M Singh but not deep enough to pay any heed to the analysis and suggestions of the NCf report.

Purushottam said...

yeah certainly the package is a reactionary initiative, which also sadly comes after more than 1500 suicides within 3-4 years in Vidarbha itself and many more in other states.
The long-term issues still remain and they need political intitiatives not relief packages!

Another source of worry is the World-Bank backed privatization of irrigation (Maharashtra Water Resources Regulatory Authority Act). More on this here and here.

also, From a 22005 Sainath interview.
In 1989, before the reform package in India, development expenditure in India was 14.5 percent of GDP. It’s today 5.3 percent.
When you reduce development expenditures from 14.5 percent to 5.3 percent, that’s a fall in investment and expenditure in the countryside of 30,000 crores [300 billion] of Rupees. Now 30,000 crores in the countryside translates into 150,000 crores [1.5 trillion] of lost income, because for every buck spent in the countryside we had five Rupees generated. So when we had this severe drop in development expenditures, we had an even bigger drop in income, and that’s where the agrarian crisis takes off.

Anonymous said...

i agree puru, thanks for bringing the problems with management of water resources, esp. its privatization like selling rights of distribution to private bodies into the debate.

there is a worrying trend, i.e. the cooptation of resistance against these policies that is now taking place in an urban environment in Bangalore. are you familiar with the controversy around the GBWASP in Bcity?
p.s. btw this was priceless- the Maharashtra govt reacting to the flak its been getting on the Vidarbha and agri crisis responded, "other states have higher rates of suicides".