Cash crunch pushing farmers into another debt trap: Congress
The Telangana Pradesh Congress Committee (TPCC) has sought the intervention of Governor E.S.L. Narasimhan to overcome the severe shortage of cash needed by farmers to invest in Kharif 2017.
Hyderabad: The Telangana Pradesh Congress Committee (TPCC) has sought the intervention of Governor E.S.L. Narasimhan to overcome the severe shortage of cash needed by farmers to invest in Kharif 2017.
TPCC Chief Capt. N. Uttam Kumar Reddy, along with a delegation of senior leaders, met the Governor at Raj Bhavan on Saturday complaining that the problems being faced by farmers in Telangana State have multiplied several time in recent months and demanded for immediate redressal and response from governance mechanism. "Government failures in agriculture sector are directly responsible for increasing farmers' suicides in Telangana State," alleged Uttam Kumar Reddy in the memorandum submitted to the Governor.
The Congress delegation comprise of Leaders of Opposition K. Jana Reddy (Assembly) and Mohammed Ali Shabbir (Council), ex-PCC President Ponnala Lakshmaiah, Kishan Kheth Mazoor Congress chairman M. Kodanda Reddy, MLAs Dr. J. Geetha Reddy, G. Chinna Reddy and D.K. Aruna, MLC Ponguleti Sudhakar Reddy, ex-union minister T. Balram Naik and former minister Danam Nagender.
Speaking to media persons later, Uttam Kumar Reddy said that the recent procurement of paddy by the farmers, expected to be a boon, turned out to be bane. "Farmers found that their money, received from sales of paddy, is locked up in banks. Banks are not allowing farmers to withdraw money deposited by the government procurement agency in banks, citing lack of sufficient cash. Farmers who require that money to invest in Kharif 2017 ultimately had to resort to private loans, pushing them into another cycle of debt trap. Lack of cash in rural branches of commercial banks, and in regional rural banks, has created immense difficulties for both farmers and farm labour. Even MNREGA funds have not been released due to shortage of cash. Chasing this elusive cash, and unable to push vendors to accept Kisan Credit Cards, farmers had to resort to private money lending, costing them enormously," he said.
The TPCC Chief also said that the farm loan waiver scheme, which has come to an end, has failed miserably in reducing debts of the farmers. "This ill-planned scheme has put small and marginal farmers to further misery. They did not get back their land and other property documents. They could not get loans, which in any case were difficult to get. Farmers included in the scheme had to pay interest, despite assurances from the banks and government leaders alike," he said.
He also alleged that farm loan waiver scheme has not been implemented transparently and the 'blame game' between government and banks has harmed the small and marginal farmers," he said.
Further, he said that the input subsidy of Rs. 790 crores of 2016 was delayed inordinately by the State Government adding to the farmers miseries.
"Chief Minister K. Chandrashekar Rao has assured time and again that the government would pay the interest on farm loans. But he has not done so. The State Government did not release funds on time, sufficiently and with a proper assessment. Assurance of the Chief Minister has not been followed up," he said.
Uttam Kumar Reddy said demonetisation has stressed farmers severely, ever since it was announced. The farmers could not get cash for their produce and It continues to haunt them even now. "Severe shortage of cash has lowered the standards of life in rural areas and pushed farmers into the clutches of private money lenders. Ironically, financial inclusive measures of the government have alienated farmers from the formal banking system in many ways," he said.
The TPCC Chief also complained that farmers, who were victims of under-quality seeds which either did not grow or give fruits, also did not get any compensation from the seed companies, with government playing hide and seek to help the companies. He said in Karnataka State, farmers were paid compensation by the government upfront, which was collected later from the seed companies. However, in Telangana, none of the farmers ever got any compensation for seed failures.
Uttam Kumar Reddy said that MNREGA wages have not been paid, as post offices also do not have cash, leading to hunger among rural labour families.
The Congress leaders urged the Governor to take cognizance of these issues and concerns and take immediate action to obviate financial, physical and psychological stress on small and marginal farmers.