Waive loans, demand agitating farmers
New Delhi, July 26
“The policies of the Union Government over successive years have led to economic backwardness and indebtedness of farmers, besides suicides by over one lakh farmers across the country. The government should waive loans of those farmers who have already paid twice the principal amount to banks and cooperative societies,” Mr Balbir Singh Rajewal, president of the union, said.
He said according to the government’s own estimates, the return on capital in the agriculture sector had come down 3 per cent, but the farmers had to pay 9-10 per cent interest to the banks till recently and 24-50 per cent to money lenders, putting them in a debt trap.
Condemning the government’s approach to provide subsidised foodgrain to people living below the poverty line in other states at the cost of the farmers, the union said on the pattern of other countries, the government should make a provision for food subsidy in the Budget and the farmers should be paid the market rate for their crops.
In a progressive state like Punjab, the farmers had to repay Rs 12,000 crore to the banks, besides about Rs 12,000 crore to the money lenders and commission agents.
Raising the issue of the rise in petrol and diesel prices, he said the government was collecting over Rs 1,26,000 crore through 57 per cent duties on petrol and 37 per cent on diesel. The cost of fuel for the farm sector had increased manifold.
The union demanded that as per the recommendations of the National Farmers Commission, the government should provide farm loans at 4 per cent interest, besides waiving agri-loans.
The union later submitted a memorandum to the Prime Minister, demanding a package for the farm sector.
Mr Manjit Singh Kadian, working president of the BKU (Lakhowal), called upon the government to fix Rs 865 as MSP per quintal for wheat, Rs 3,750 per quintal for cotton and Rs 3,300 per quintal for oilseeds.
Mr Bhupinder Singh Maheshwari, general secretary, Punjab BKU, alleged that the Punjab Government had still to pay a bonus of Rs 30 per quintal on wheat, promised before the Assembly elections in 2001, and only Rs 10 per quintal was paid.