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PUNJAB Farmers give thumbs down

February 02, 2019 06:27 AM


Gurpreet Singh Nibber
Farmers give thumbs down
Say ₹6,000 a year is too little a relief for agriculturists who are struggling to make ends meet
CHANDIGARH: Farmers, office-bearers of farmer bodies and agriculture economists have rejected the benefits announced by Union finance minister Piyush Goyal in the interim budget he presented on Friday.

With diminishing profits and debt piling up, farming community is under stress.
“What’s in the budget for farmers,” asked Bharatiya Kisan Union (Rajewal) president Balbir Singh Rajewal, adding that the income support of ₹ 6,000 per year will not do any good to the farmers.

In the election year, Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government plans to target nearly 12 crore farmer families in the country by disbursing ₹75,000 crore through the assured income scheme for the community.

“The funds earmarked are huge but the beneficiaries are too many. Looking at the benefits announced for the industry, employees and banks, the announcement for the farmer is nothing,” said Rajewal, adding the government plans to extend the income support to farmers in three instalments.

He said increase in rebate on interest from 4 to 5% for timely repayment of loan is also not a big deal. “I was expecting some debtwaiver package, but nothing was announced,” said Raj Karan Singh, a farmer from a village in Amritsar.

“It is saddening that the government has cheated and confused the farmers. The government has not touched the debt waiver at all,” said Bhupinder Singh Mann, who heads a faction of the BKU.

Head of the economics department, Punjabi University, Lakhwinder Singh Gill said he couldn’t find anything worthwhile for the farmers in the budget. “₹6,000 a year is of no help when the agrarian community is under so much stress.”

“The states of Telangana and Chhattisgarh are giving more to the farmers,” said Gill, adding unless the government doesn’t improve health, education and extension services for the farmers, the crisis will keep getting worse. He said the government wants to divert subsidies on other farm inputs in the garb of assured income.

Bharatiya Kisan Union’s general secretary, Ludhiana, Sudaghar Singh said, “Modi government had made many promises earlier but none has been fulfilled so far. Earlier, the government promised ₹15 lakh to all farmers which now has been reduced to ₹6,000 a year and that too only for those with landholdings up to 2 hectares. It is a fake promise just to lure us before election. The farmers are now aware of the tactics of Modi government. The Prime Minister focuses on providing benefits to big industries, not us.”

Harmeet Kadian of BKU (Kadian) said, “There is no word on loan waiver, nothing for the dairy farmers and no plan for storage of the excess agriculture produce.

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