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PM brings relief for Andhra farmers
Ramesh Kandula
Tribune News Service

Hyderabad, July 1
In his first visit outside Delhi, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today provided succour to the farmers of Andhra Pradesh by extending support to the families of farmers who committed suicide.

Mr Singh, during the tour in two villages in Kurnool and Mahbubnagar districts, heard of problems faced by the agricultural community in the state.

“I myself have come from a farmer’s family and understand your problems. I am moved by your plight and I assure you that the state and central governments will do everything to enable you to stand on your own,” the Prime Minister said. In Somayajulapalle of Kurnool district, he distributed cheques worth Rs 2 lakh to each of the 39 families of debt-trapped farmers, who ended their lives.

The Chief Minister, Dr Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy, Union Ministers K. Chandrasekhar Rao and P. Laxmi accompanied Mr Singh.

During his interaction with the families, Mr Singh made a genuine effort to empathise with their situation and gave a patient hearing to the grievances narrated by them. The Prime Minister promised them support in all possible ways.

He listened to problems related by farmers’ widows, offering various sops like ex-gratia, housing facility under Indira Awas Yojana, government job and crop loans, besides announcing a package of schemes such as roads, drinking water and drainage facilities for improving living conditions in the village.

In Somayajulapalle 53 farmers had killed themselves since 1998 as a result of years of drought and mounting debt to institutional and private lenders. According to local residents, no official had turned up in the village for the past 2 years.

Mr Singh next visited Dharmapur village in backward Mahbubnagar district, which faced similar problems. The Prime Minister announced the assistance package worth Rs 45 lakh by the state government to the families here. The Prime Minister left for Raj Bhavan in Hyderabad, where he met the Opposition delegation who submitted memoranda on the problems faced by the farmers.

Earlier, Governor Surjit Singh Barnala, Chief Minister Reddy and his cabinet colleagues warmly received the Prime Minister.

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AP to get Rs 60 cr, more foodgrains

Hyderabad, July 1
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today issued orders to release Rs 60 crore from the Calamity Relief Fund (CRF) and an additional 1.82 lakh tonnes of foodgrains to Andhra Pradesh to help it tide over the problem of suicides by indebted farmers.

The grants would be used to start food-for-work programme and provide employment to villages in Andhra Pradesh severely affected by drought and to prevent suicides by farmers.

The Prime Minister announced at a news conference here that the credit flow to rural areas to benefit farmers in the State would be doubled over the next 30 days.

The government had instructed Andhra Bank to coordinate with the State Bank of Hyderabad, State Bank of India, Indian Bank and Syndicate Bank to visit all families, whose bread winners had committed suicides.

''With the help of the state government, these Banks will extend support to them for economic activities for ensuring steady income. This will be done within the next 30 days and will be monitored by the state government as well as my office,'' the Prime Minister said.

Mr Singh said the Union Government would bring forward a new Act to regulate and standardise the quality of the seeds. The Act would provide for strict penalties for violation of laid down norms.

The Prime Minister said he was also initiating other steps, such as simplifying drought assistance procedure and programme for water shed management, to alleviate suffering during drought. — UNI
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