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Maharashtra: Centre extends deadline for rabi crop insurance till Jan 10

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Union Government has extended the timeline for farmers to get enrolled in the rabi crop insurance scheme till January 10, Maharashtra agriculture minister Pandurang Fundkar said on Saturday.”The earlier deadline of registration for the crop insurance scheme for rabi season was December 31. It has been extended to January 10 so as to enable more farmers to be benefitted from the initiative,” said Fundkar.The insurance is being offered by National Insurance Company and their officials will be facilitating enrollment of farmers in the scheme, the minister said. Meanwhile, leader of opposition in legislative council, Dhananjay Munde in a statement today claimed that he had written a letter on December 28 to chief minister seeking some relaxation for rabi crop insurance registration.Munde who is unhappy with the 10-days extension, said, “I had demanded extra one month’s time for the farmers but that demand has not been met.”Munde in his letter contended that farmers do not have sufficient amount of money in hand due to demonetisation and hence they should get more time to get their crop insured.

Madhya Pradesh plans to develop 1,100 ‘climate-smart’ villages to help farmers

Bhopal: Madhya Pradesh has embarked on an ambitious plan to develop 1,100 ‘climate-smart’ villages with an aim to prepare farmers to manage the climate change risks timely and ensure good productivity.

“The government has been planning to develop 1,100 villages as climate-smart villages in a period of next six years,” state Farmer Welfare & Agriculture Development Department Principal Secretary Dr Rajesh Rajora told PTI.

He said 100 villages in each of the 11 agro-climatic zones of the state would be taken up under the plan, which would incur a cost about Rs 150 crore every year.

Shivraj Singh Chouhan. PTI

Shivraj Singh Chouhan. PTI

“The work is being taken up under the National Agriculture Development Programme (NADP) and Indian National Mission on Sustainable Agriculture,” he said.

In these villages, the farmers would be encouraged to go for short duration variety of crops, in addition to using drought-resistance seeds.

“The focus would be on integrated agriculture, which comprises animal husbandry, fisheries, in addition to traditional farming. Agro-forestry would also be adopted in these villages,” Rajora said.

Agro-forestry conserves and protects the natural resources as it helps water retention and stops soil erosion.

He said integrated nutrients management would also be implemented to help in soil fertility and plant nutrients supply through optimisation of all possible sources of organic, inorganic and biological components.

“In addition, the integrated pest management, zero tillage, raised bed gardening techniques and micro-irrigation would also be introduced in the climate smart villages. This would help farmers to increase the productivity amid all challenges of climate change,” he said.

Zero tillage technique is a way of growing crops time and again without disturbing the soil through ploughing, another agriculture expert said.

“The micro-irrigation systems like drip and sprinklers would not only reduce the water use but also lessen the use of fertilisers and energy,” he said.

Rajora said the state government would seek help of International Crops Research Institute for Semi Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), an international NGO working in the field of agriculture, and Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), a global agriculture research partnership.

“The Centre has set ICRISAT, the UN organisation, as nodal agency for developing the climate-smart villages. We would also seek expertise from scientists of two agriculture universities at Jabalpur and Gwalior in addition to state government’s scientists in various district headquarters,” he said.

According to agriculture department officials, various equipment and sensors would also be used in these villages to help the farmers.

The state government has already announced to open a soil testing laboratory at the block level. A plan is also on the anvil to provide soil health cards to farmers under state government’s efforts to double farmers’ income in five years.

To ensure sustainable agriculture growth, MP has also constituted a ‘Krishi (agriculture) Cabinet’ for the purpose.

The cabinet includes ministers of agriculture, horticulture, animal husbandry, fisheries, cooperatives, water resources, Narmada valley development, energy, panchayat, rural development and SC/ST welfare departments.

MP had also received Krishi Karman award for 2014-15, the fourth during past five years, for increasing the food grains production and productivity by 254 lakh tonnes and 1,719 kg per hectare, respectively.

The state government also claimed to have increased the irrigated agriculture area to 40 lakh hectares from 7 lakh hectares in 2003.

First Published On : Dec 30, 2016 11:17 IST

Demonetisation: Farmers to get 60 additional days for repayment of crop loans, says RBI

Mumbai: The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on Monday said that in view of demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes, farmers, whose short term crop loan repayment date falls between 1 November and 31 December, will get an additional 60-day grace period.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

“In view of the constraints faced by farmers for timely repayment of loan dues on account of withdrawal of legal tender status of Specified Bank Notes (SBNs), it has been decided by the government to provide an additional grace period of 60 days for prompt repayment incentive of 3 percent to those farmers whose crop loan dues are falling due between 1 November and 31 December,” RBI said in a notification.

Currently, according to the existing crop loan interest rebate scheme for 2016-17, apart from the two percent annual rebate, an additional interest rebate of 3 percent is also provided if the farmer repays the loan up to the actual date of repayment or the date fixed by banks for repayment, whichever is earlier.

This benefit does not accrue to those farmers who repay after one year of availing such loans.

If the farmers, whose crop loan repayment date falls between 1 November and 31 December, repay the crop loan within 60 days from their loan repayment date, the additional three percent interest rebate will continue to apply, it said.

First Published On : Dec 26, 2016 20:56 IST

DMK seeks special assembly session to discuss Cauvery issue

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>DMK urged the AIADMK government in Tamil Nadu to convene a special session of the state assembly to discuss the Cauvery water issue and the situation faced by farmers in the delta region.Party Treasurer and Leader of the Opposition MK Stalin alleged that because of the ruling AIADMK’s “confrontational approach” toward the upper riparian state Karnataka, the state could not get its due share of water from the inter-state river for the past six years.In such a situation, some farmers in the Cauvery delta region had died unable to bear the losses suffered due to failure of crops or had committed suicide, he claimed. Farmers’ associations, besides DMK, had staged a series of protest on the Cauvery issue, but the government had so far neither held any talks with the ryots on the matter, nor has it provided any relief to them, he said in a statement here.With Karnataka not releasing water, the delta region was “dry” he said, adding, the lawmakers, should therefore discuss the “critical” situation of farmers.Further, with the Centre proposing to establish a single tribunal to look into all inter-state water disputes, he doubted if the Cauvery Management Board (CMB) will be constituted in the near future and sought confidence boosting steps from the government for the farmers. “Therefore, a special session of the Assembly should be convened to discuss the critical situation of farmers. Further, a resolution should be adopted for constituting the CMB and declaring Tamil Nadu as drought-hit and it should be sent to the Central government,” he said.

Demonetisation: Narendra Modi ‘wants to destroy farmers’, says RLD chief Ajit Singh

Demonetisation: Narendra Modi ‘wants to destroy farmers’, says RLD chief Ajit Singh

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Muzaffarnagar: Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) chief Ajit Singh in a rally on Thursday said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s motive behind the demonetisation decision was to destroy farmers.

File photo of RLD chief Ajit Singh. PTI

File photo of RLD chief Ajit Singh. PTI

“Demonetisation has created great problems for farmers and comman man. Modi’s policy is anti-farmers and he wants to destroy the farmers,” Singh said while addressing an election rally in Charthawal area of the district on Thursday evening.

Modi first failed to fulfill his promise of bringing black money from abroad and then came up with demonetisation. “And now has scrapped import duty on wheat to destroy the farmers,” he said.

Singh alleged, BJP was tring to divide farmers on communal lines and creating communal tension to get benefit in polls.

He appealed the people to beat BJP in UP assembly polls next year.

NCP chief Sharad Pawar, JD(U) leaders Sharad Yadav and K C Tyagi also addressed the rally and attacked the NDA government’s policies.

First Published On : Dec 23, 2016 14:46 IST

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‘Notebandi achha hai’: In UP’s sugarcane belt, demonetization is a sweet word

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>His white clothes soiled from the dust on the road outside the sugar mill, where he had been waiting for 12 hours, 65-year-old Bhagwan Singh’s cup was brimming with woe. “We wait here for 24 hours without a place to sleep and then stand in queue at banks but we still don’t get even Rs 2,000,” said the sugarcane farmer.Two other farmers — Devinder and Gajendra — who shared Singh’s grievance about waiting at the mill to sell cane, however, refuted his criticism of demonetization and even drowned out his voice. “Hamare khoon choosne wale pakde jaenge. Notebandi achha hai (those who have sucked our blood will suffer. Demonetization is good),” Devinder said vociferously.Speaking about demonetization, Gajendra said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has done the right thing, but banks had failed him. “When the money from the rich comes, it will help us,” he said.Around 50 farmers joined the three. The argument on demonetization got heated, worrying security guards at the gates. The farmers moved away but the debate continued and tempers ran high.Inside the sprawling Chadha Sugar mill, where around 150 cane-laden trucks make more than one trip a day, labourers were upset over not getting their wages.Dayachand, who runs cranes in the mill, was worried that his workers have not been paid since November. Unlike farmers, whose money goes straight into their bank accounts, labourers at the factory are paid in cash.However, this has not deterred Dayachand from supporting demonetization. “Modi has promised development and I would like to give him a chance.”With the PM’s promise that the poor will get empowered etched on their minds, there are hopes and rising expectations among several of them that things will change. And, they are ready to wait. The narrative of the poor versus corrupt, which in their eyes has become synonymous with the rich, oppressed versus oppressor, and honest versus dishonest, has touched several chords among the people here, holding a sway over the demonetization debate.Yet, as the 50-day timeline sought by Modi is nearing its end, signs of a simmering anger are now surfacing.Surinder, who was taking cane to the mill, said the cash crunch has added to problems of farmers, who have yet to get last year’s payment from mills. “It’s wheat-sowing time but I don’t have money to buy seeds. In my village, only 50 per cent wheat has been sowed and by this time it should be 70 per cent,” he said.A BJP supporter, he is now trying to make up his mind on whether to vote for BSP or SP for the upcoming state polls.Mill authorities too admitted that demonetization had led to problems. “Employees have been taking leave to stand in queues. We are not able to get enough money out of banks to pay labourers,” said Mohit Kumar, a superintendent in the cane department.Cane farmers alleged there was “too much cane” at the factory and the crushing capacity of the mill had dropped. Om Vir, a farmer from Phatehpur Shitra village, said he was selling the sugarcane at Chapna mill, where he was getting Rs 310 per quintal in cash, and not at Chaddha Mill, where he was registered and would get Rs 315 per quintal.”But, Modi will get support for demonetization,” he said.Around 70 km away, at Hapur’s Simbhaoli Sugar Mill, where 50,000 sugarcane growers are registered, farmers were angry that the mill was buying cane from “outsiders” at a lower price. But this they said had nothing to do with notebandi.At a queue at the mill, a farmer said demonetization will “at least hurt the rich who have been collecting wealth,” while another said, “someone has acted against the corrupt…We are supporting Modi, not BJP.”A few disagreed, saying the problems were not showing any sign of ebbing. One quipped with a wry smile,”pradhan mantri ne kaha hai ki yeh saal accha hai,” a reference to a line from Mirza Ghalib’s “ek Brahman ne kaha hai yeh saal achcha hai (a Brahmin has said this year will be good.)” He refused to say whether he was in favour or against.Sociologist Dipankar Gupta said farmers have not felt the pinch as much as migrant labourers. “Demonetization is being seen as an attack (by the farmers) not just on the rich but the urban rich and this satisfies a very basic sentiment,” he said.Commenting on the conditions of farmers, he added: “I suspect before the next Rabi season things will stabilise. Sugarcane farmers depend on orders from mills. Unlike others it’s not an emergency situation for them.”As the sugarcane-laden tractors, trucks and bullock carts lined the skyline against the orange hues of the setting sun, there seemed to be hope that next year would bring “ache din.”

Rahul Gandhi’s ‘bomb’ explodes: Why the Opposition split ahead of meeting with PM Modi

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A steady and unified Opposition that derailed almost all official business during the Winter Session of Parliament —for the past 20 days— came to a cropper on the last day, when Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi met Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday.Opposition parties accused Rahul of breaking an understanding by going alone to meet the PM and fixing an appointment with President Pranabh Mukherjee in his own name.Speaking to DNA, a senior Left party leader revealed that a day ahead of the session of Parliament, it was decided that no one would be the leader of the coordinated Opposition programmes and even while marching towards Rashtrapati Bhawan and during sit-ins, the leaders would form a horizontal row to give equal prominence to all leaders.Protesting at the Congress’ conduct, the Left, DMK, AIADMK, SP, BSP and the NCP, at the last minute, dropped out of the protest march. That left Congress president Sonia Gandhi to lead a whittled-down Opposition delegation of 15 parties to meet the President.Among prominent parties only JD(U) and the Trinamool Congress (TMC) joined the delegation. While the Congress said that the meeting with the PM was fixed to raise the issue of farmers in Uttar Pradesh (UP) and Punjab and hand over thousands of signatures collected by the party for waiving loan arrears and seeking other reliefs, other Opposition parties were not impressed.”We will never know what transpired at the meeting since it was between the Congress leaders and the PM. It was a clear violation of understanding,” said P Karunakaran, CPI(M) member from Kerala. NCP leader Praful Patel said: “We were together in Parliament. It would be better if they would have taken everyone along. Outside the house, everyone has a different role.”Sources said that it was decided at a meeting that all Opposition leaders would meet Modi over the issue of farmers, since the SP and the BSP were primary stakeholders in UP. BSP chief Mayawati and SP leaders later expressed their anger over Rahul meeting the PM alone.CPI (M) leader Sitaram Yechury said that there was no use knocking on the doors of the President. “Our strategy was deferred as we felt the President could do nothing in the matter and we should have gone to the public instead,” he said.The Left and other parties were firmly behind Rahul Gandhi when he declared two days ago that he has information on the “personal corruption” committed by PM Modi, a claim that was dismissed by the BJP as “the joke of the year.”Rahul delayed his flight to Goa in order to first meet Modi. In a memorandum to the PM, the Congress highlighted an acute agrarian distress and the plight of the farmers suffering for the last two years due to two consecutive droughts, unseasonal rains, and floods.As a relief, he sought halving the farmers’ electricity bills and asked the PM to fulfil its promise to provide higher Minimum Support Prices (MSP) for the crops.During the meeting, the Prime Minister told Rahul: “We should always meet like this.” Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge responded by saying, “Even if our hearts don’t meet, we can at least cooperate and shake hands.”In a memorandum to the President, Congress and other smaller parties asked his intervention to save parliamentary democracy, which they said was being destroyed by the Modi government by preventing a debate on demonetization.

In Modi’s cashless economy 5-6% from every transaction will go to rich people: Rahul Gandhi

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Speaking in Goa Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi hit out at PM Modi’s demonetization scheme. He said at a rally that 1% of the rich people have acquired 60% of the country’s money. He was quoted saying by ANI: “In the last 2 and half years, 1% rich people have acquired 60% of country’s money.” He further said: “All cash is not black money & all black money is not cash. Demonetization has targeted the poor, the cash economy of our country. Cong wants to eradicate corruption from country; If NDA govt wants to take a step against it, party will give its 100% support. But demonetization drama isn’t fight against corruption, black money. It’s an attack on India’s 99% honest people , cash economy, weak people.” He further said: “1% super-rich people usurped Rs 8 lakh crore from India’s banks. When they didn’t return money, you(Centre) called it non-performing asset.” He added: “Nov 8 ko khade hote hain jaise Obamaji khade hote hai aur kaha,”jo jebh mein paisa hai Hindustan k gareeb logon woh ab kagaz ho gye (On November 8, he stood up like Obama and said: “The money in poor people’s pockets is now paper.)He added: “Yeh surgical strike nahi thi yeh Hindustan ke imaandar logon pe “firebombing” thi (This wasn’t a surgical strike on India’s honest people, this was a firebombing.)”He added: “In last 2.5 years, PM Modi waived off Rs 1,10,000 crore of these people. After demonetization, he waived off Vijay Mallya’s Rs 1200 crore. Demonetization is all about “gareebon se paisa kheechon, ameeron ko paisa seechon.”Earlier, a Congress delegation today met Prime Minister Narendra Modi to highlight the plight of farmers in the country and demanded a loan waiver for them. During the meeting, which came in the backdrop of Gandhi’s fierce attack on the Prime Minister over demonetisation, top Congress leaders presented a memorandum to Modi on demands of farmers including loan waiver, reducing power bills to half and remunerative MSP for farm produce.The delegation included Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad, Leader of Congress in Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge, deputy leaders in both Houses Anand Sharma and Jyotiraditya Scindia, Punjab Congress chief Amarinder Singh and UP Congress chief Raj Babbar.After the meeting, the Congress Vice President said that Modi heard them patiently but did not commit anything.”We, Congress party delegation, met Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the plight of farmers of this country. Every single day, a farmer is committing suicide in Punjab. Farmers are committing suicide all over the country.”The government has removed the import duty on wheat.This is a devastating blow. So we went to the Prime Minister to request him on behalf of farmers of this country to waive their loans,” he told reporters.He said the Prime Minister accepted that the situation of farmers is serious but did not say anything on loan waiver.Sources said the Prime Minister gave the delegation a patient hearing and told Rahul Gandhi to “keep meeting him”.Gandhi has been targeting the Prime Minister often, with his latest offensive being on demonetisation. He claimed on Wednesday that he had information about alleged “personal corruption” of the Prime Minister, but the BJP dismissed it as a “joke”.Gandhi had raised the farmers issue during his recent Deoria to Delhi yatra in poll-bound Uttar Pradesh. The Congress has collected over 2 crore “Kisan maang patras” from across Uttar Pradesh and over 34 lakh from Punjab which also goes to polls early next year.

Demonetisation: Rahul Gandhi urges Narendra Modi to waive off farmer loans, PM non-committal

New Delhi: Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi on Friday met Prime minister Narendra Modi seeking a waiver of loans given to farmers.

A Gandhi-led Congress delegation also raised the issue of farmer suicides with Modi and urged him to write off the loans given to farmers like it has been done in the case of corporates.

File photo of Rahul Gandhi. PTI

File photo of Rahul Gandhi. PTI

“Thousands of farmers are committing suicide across the country. Every single day a farmer is committing suicide in Punjab. We met the Prime Minister and apprised him about the plight of farmers across the country,” Gandhi told the media.

“This government has waived off loans of Rs 1.40 lakh crore to corporates. So we urged the government to waive off the loans of the farmers as well,” he said.

The delegation comprised senior Congress leaders including Punjab state unit chief Captain Amarinder Singh and Leader of Congress in the Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge.

Gandhi also said that the government decision to remove import duty on wheat was a “terrible blow” to the farmers.

“The Prime Minister too admitted the condition of the farmers to be grave. But he did not say anything about waiving off the loans to farmers,” he said.

Gandhi’s meeting with Modi comes days after he vowed to expose the Prime Minister’s “personal complicity in corruption”.

First Published On : Dec 16, 2016 15:59 IST

Pristine white Amul says ‘cheese’ to demonetization, shifts to online payment for big farmers

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Dairy farmers in Gujarat are no longer a distressed lot. Their initial woes following Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s announcement of overnight ban on high-value banknotes have now made way to happy jamborees. Farmers are busy opening bank accounts and learning the basics of going cashless as Amul—owned by India’s largest milk cooperative chain, Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation (GCMMF)—just decided to take the bull by the horns.”Since November 8, we have helped farmers open 5.4 lakh new savings accounts, taking the total number of banked milk farmers to over 17 lakh. All their payments are now streamlined through respective bank accounts,” says RS Sodhi, managing director of the Federation, adding that most new accounts are being opened in public sector banks and cooperative banks.GCMMF—jointly owned by over 36 lakh milk producers across 18,600 villages in Gujarat and helped 70-year-old brand Amul spread its wings across India—has asked dairy societies to make payments to all big farmers through bank transfers. Small farmers will still get it in cash, thanks to Rs 50,000 per week withdrawal relaxation granted to societies operating current accounts in district cooperative banks.Sodhi said the milk procurement, which suffered an initial setback in the wake of the demonetization drive, has now improved to 192 lakh litres per day. “On the sales front, there was a short-term impact on discretion products such as ice-cream. But there is absolutely no impact on sales of milk, butter and curd,” he said.Farmers have found some positives in the direct credit of money, the most important being the transparency and a curb on irrational spending. The age-old practice of societies providing informal short-term loans to farmers— under the table for a fee—has come to a naught.”The response from farmers to open bank accounts has been immense. Earlier, they were spending money recklessly and had not developed the habit of saving. With their bank accounts now being operational and a withdrawal limit in place, milk farmers have seen an improvement in their savings too. Also, they can look forward to applying for loans once they built a supporting credit history,” says Sodhi.The demonetization has not produced any dent in Amul’s proposed revenues. It is looking to clock around 20 per cent growth and revenues in excess of Rs 28,000 crore, claims Sodhi.Another senior official of the Federation said Amul presents a classic case study for PM Modi’s plan to double the income of farmers in the country. In May, Modi had unveiled a seven-point strategy to double the income of farmers by 2022.”The government can emulate the Amul model of backward/forward integration, with its own supply chain and marketing network, to help farmers across the country,” said the official.In 2015-16, the Federation recorded a turnover of Rs 23,005 crore, 11 per cent higher than the previous financial year’s sales turnover of Rs 20,733 crore, with the entire sales turnover growth having come from volume growth.

Demonetization: Must ensure #IndiaDefeatsBlackMoney, short-term pain will pave way for long-term gains: PM Modi

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Amid ongoing protests from the Opposition parties, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday said that the government’s decision of demonetization had several gains and that people must ensure that India defeats black money.”The Government’s decision has several gains for farmers, traders, labourers, who are the economic backbone of our nation. I always said that the government’s measure will bring a degree of inconvenience but this short term pain will pave way for long term gains,” said Modi in a series of tweets.Stating that no longer will the progress and prosperity of rural India be curtailed by corruption and black money, Modi added, “Our villages must get their due. We also have a historic opportunity to embrace increased cashless payments and integrate latest technology in economic transactions.”Calling youngsters the agent of change, Modi said, “My young friends, you are agents of change who will make India corruption free and ensure more cashless transactions.””Together, we must ensure #IndiaDefeatsBlackMoney. This will empower the poor, neo-middle class, middle class & benefit future generations,” he added.Earlier in the day, Opposition leaders observed a ‘Black Day’ in Parliament premises to mark one month of the announcement of demonetization with Rahul Gandhi launching a scathing attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saying his “foolish decision” had “devastated” the country.Leading the protest, Gandhi accused Modi of shying away from having a discussion on the issue in Parliament, but stressed that opposition parties will “not let him run away” from both Houses, where “everything will become clear” once the Prime Minister takes part in the debate.”The Prime Minister took this so-called bold decision. The bold decision can also be a foolish decision. And this was a foolish decision, it has devastated the country. More than 100 people have died. Farmers, fishermen, daily wage earners have been hit hard,” Rahul said.

Maharashtra CM Fadnavis calls for ‘reverse working’ for cashless society for farmers, labourers

Mumbai: Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Thursday stressed the need for “reverse working” for a cashless society, like giving priority to the needs of farmers, labourers from unorganised sector and small vendors.

Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis. PTI

Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis. PTI

“Stressed on reverse working for cashless society like considering the needs of farmers, labours from unorganised sector & small vendors first,” Fadnavis said in a tweet after participating in a discussion in the central government committee to promote cashless society via video conferencing.

“Had a good discussion in the video conference meeting of Committee appointed by the GoI on promotion of cashless society,” he said.

Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu is the convenor of this central committee with many Chief Ministers and NITI Aayog Vice President Arvind Panagariya and CEO Amitabh Kant as invitees.

He said he briefed the committee on the remedies and steps taken by Maharashtra government to bring ease to common man in demonetisation process.

“We need to give some more options, instruments and hands on training to move towards cashless/less cash society as appealed by (Prime Minister) Narendra Modi ji,” Fadnavis said.

First Published On : Dec 2, 2016 07:55 IST

Demonetisation: Mulayam Singh Yadav says farmers, lower class families worst hit

New Delhi: Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav on Monday sought Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s statement on demonetisation in the Lok Sabha, saying that the farmers and the weaker sections of the society were worst affected by the cash crisis caused by the move.

File photo of Mulayam Singh Yadav. PTI

File photo of Mulayam Singh Yadav. PTI

“Prime Minister should come to Lok Sabha and give his statement on the government’s demonetisation move which has led a cash crisis across the country,” Yadav said in the lower house of Parliament.

He added that the farmers and the weaker section of the society were badly affected by the 8 November demonetisation.

“Farmers are not able to purchase seeds because they do not have cash with them and that is why they are not able to sow the seeds in the fields.”

“Poor and labour class people also facing lots of hardships as they do not have cash with them,” Yadav said.

The central government demonetised RS 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes to put a curb on black money and counterfeit currency.

First Published On : Nov 28, 2016 14:23 IST

Uttar Pradesh govt not interested in welfare of its farmers: PM Modi

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday alleged that the Samajwadi Party-led Uttar Pradesh Government is not interested in the welfare of the farmers and urged it to implement the Prime Minister Fasal Beema Yojana.Prime Minister Modi asserted that his government is dedicated to the poor, farmers, scheduled castes and scheduled tribes. “If we would have brought change in lives of farmers, India wouldn’t have been facing problems. Strong farmers and villages add strength to India. My government is dedicated to the poor, to the farmers and scheduled castes and scheduled tribes,” the Prime Minister said while addressing the BJP’s Parivartan rally in Kushinagar.Urging Akhilesh Yadav-led government to implement the Prime Minister Fasal Beema Yojana, Prime Minister Modi said the scheme ensures minimum premium and maximum insurance. “Want to tell Uttar Pradesh Government that if they have time and are concerned about the farmers of the state, then implement Prime Minister Fasal Beema Yojana. This ensures minimum premium and maximum insurance. But I don’t think the Uttar Pradesh Government will be able to do anything as they are not interested,” he added.”The people here have gone through many troubles. They say, if the person who gives is powerful then why the need to ask? We are not powerful, we are sevaks. You, the people are givers, I have come here to pay the debts. The people of sugar mills came to me to ask for a package (financial). This is an old habit, but Modi is new. I told them I will give them whatever they need. Then sent my officers to inquire the debts these sugar mill owners owe the farmers. I told the money will not be given to mill owners, but directly to the farmers, in their bank accounts,” the Prime Minister said.Asserting that when his government took charge the cane farmers were owed Rs 12,000 crore, Prime Minister Modi said it made efforts to ensure they got paid in time, adding that their dues have been cleared to an extent.

Demonetisation: How can farmers who cannot read do e-banking? asks Manish Sisodia

New Delhi: Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia on Sunday asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi how millions of farmers and labourers could do e- or mobile banking when they can’t read or write.

Manish Sisodia. PTI

Manish Sisodia. PTI

“M-banking/e-banking is best. But how can you force millions of farmers, labourers, traders who can’t even read or write?” Sisodia asked in a tweet.

He also asked Modi to check if his MPs and secretaries used mobile and banking/e-banking.

“Modiji! Before forcefully imposing it on millions of farmers, labourers, traders, please check if your 100 MPs are using mobile banking,” Sisodia said.

His remark came after Modi on Sunday urged the people to embrace e-banking and mobile banking for cashless transactions.

“Modiji! Do u have 100 Secretaries in your government who use it in daily life? If not, why force millions of farmers, labourers, traders?” Sisodia asked.

First Published On : Nov 27, 2016 15:13 IST

Demonetization: Must waive farmers’ loans, govt making poor people poorer, says CPI(M)’s Yechury

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Modi government should waive loans of farmers to ameliorate their sufferings as it has done for corporates, CPI(M) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury told a peasants’ rally at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi on Thursday.Slamming the Modi government on the demonetization issue, Yechury said it is saving the “looters” while “punishing” the poor as “more than 74” people have died in queues outside banks and ATMs. “In the last two years, the government waived loans of Rs 1.2 lakh crore taken by the capitalists but it is reluctant to waive loans of farmers. Loans of farmers should also be waived by the government,” he told the rally organised by the All India Kisan Sabha, the peasant wing of CPI(M).Citing poor condition of the peasantry in the country, he said the Modi government is “making poor people poorer while helping rich to become richer”. “The government says that it has taught lesson to Pakistan but our jawans are being killed on the border. Farmers are committing suicide. Under the Modi government, the rate of farmer suicides has increased by 26%,” he said.Yechury said the opposition parties would continue to corner the government in Parliament on the issue of demonetization and other anti-farmer and anti-worker policies. “We will continue cornering the government in Parliament and you will have to do so outside Parliament,” he told the farmers.Citing the problems being faced by farmers due to demonetization, he said they were being forced to sell their crop at mandis at “lower” prices. Yechury promised to raise the 15 demands of AIKS in Parliament and demand its fulfillment by the government.The rally was also addressed by many AIKS leaders including its president Amra Ram, general secretary Hannan Mollah and social activist Medha Patkar. The AIKS memorandum addressed to the Prime Minister demanded Rs 10 lakh compensation to kin of farmers who had committed suicide, implementation of the 2013 Land Acquisition Act, raise in minimum support price, proper implementation of rural job scheme MGNREGA, and interest-free loans to small and marginal farmers.

Demonetization ka side effect: Illegal opium trade in West Bengal’s Malda goes up in smoke

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has been vociferous in her criticism of demonetization, claiming the rural economy will be jeopardised by it. But in Malda, in North Bengal, demonetization has also affected the illegal opium trade in a big way.Malda is also a hub for illegal arms, cow smuggling and is referred to as India’s fake currency capital.The National Investigating Agency (NIA) in a report last year said that 90% of Fake Indian Currency Notes (FICN) pushed into the country from Pakistan is routed through Bangladesh. Since Malda shares a porous border with Bangladesh, carriers smuggle the FICN into the country from here and release it into circulation. “Malda works as a landing point for agents, who circulate fake currency into the country. Malda shares its border with Nepal and Bhutan in the north and Bangladesh in the south. Agents who come from Bangladesh can easily sneak into our country as most of the International Border does not have fencing. Some agents even produce fake documents while entering our country,” a senior NIA official said.While the Bengal government has banned the cultivation of opium poppy, illicit opium trade has become rampant in the district and is partially dependent on the fake currency in circulation. Opium is a derivative of the poppy seed pod. Its cultivation takes place across three months – November, December and January in Malda. Agents from Bangladesh smuggle the poppy seeds and give it farmers. Farmers in return are increasingly cultivating the poppy seeds for better returns compared to the cultivation of other crops. “A bigha (0.4005 acres) of cultivable land yields 4 kgs of opium latex. The farmers scrape the latex before the poppy seeds mature and the latex is dried. For one kg of opium latex, a farmer is offered anywhere between Rs 60,000 – Rs 65,000 by the agent. Later, the villagers, who double up for the carriers, deliver the consignment from one point to another and receive a handsome amount of money, mostly fake currency notes. A carrier is supposed to cover a distance of 100 metres, which makes it difficult for the security agencies to keep track, as the entire village is engaged in it,” said a carrier, adding, “The final carrier hands it over to the agent and he deals with the drug mafias and the agents are paid Rs 1 lac for a kg of opium. The drug mafia later sends the consignment to other districts of Bengal like Birbhum and Murshidabad for processing. The opium latex is further processed into heroin and smuggled across the International Border into Bangladesh.” However, following the demonetization move, the opium trade has taken a hit and farmers are being offered Rs 30,000 for a kg of opium latex. “It is usually one of the most lucrative businesses. Cultivation of other crops depends highly on the rainfall we receive that particular year. But, cultivation of poppy is a great deal as it only takes three months to grow. It does not destroy the quality of the soil and keeps it ready for the cultivation of any other crop for the rest of the months. But, following the demonetization, we are being offered only half the amount of what was promised,” said a farmer, who refused to be named. He added, “The money that we used to receive also contained fake currency notes, but we did not mind as the fake notes were accepted anywhere in the district. Thousands of fake notes are in circulation in the district and no one refuses to accept it, hence we did not mind accepting those notes in the form of payment.” In the last five years, poppy cultivation has increased many folds. While the Kaliachawk-III was known for its poppy cultivation, it has now spread across Kaliachawk-I, II and Chachol-I, II besides blocks like Gajol, Bamongola and Habibpur. While the local police is taking up modern techniques like the use of drones to identify poppy fields and destroy them, farmers grow crops like sugarcane and maize on the periphery and use it as camouflage, making it difficult for identification. Last year, police reportedly destroyed several hundred acres of poppy fields. However, officials of the security agency reveal that some local police officials are hand in glove with the drug mafia and are often paid a commission to prevent destruction of their fields.

Demonetisation: Vegetable vendors, farmers affected as trade slowdown cripples them

It is a market that at the best of days sees flurry of business activity with no time for even a small talk with anyone. Now that rush has slowed down considerably. The vegetable market in Vashi (formerly the APMC market) is slowly picking up though losses have mounted due to demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes and traders left with no small notes to give in place of the annulled notes.

Representational imageRepresentational image

Representational image

Riaz Mohammad Hussain, who has been an onion and potato wholesaler and running his family business for around 50 years, is hoping that the market turns around the corner soon and the hustle and bustle returns. “We have given credit to people but mostly the buyers are giving us old notes. We don’t take any of these annulled notes,” he says.

To get a clear picture of the business, consider this: Hussain normally sells 500 bags of potatoes and onion daily which has now come down to just 50 bags daily due to the unavailability of new currency notes from banks. Onions are being sold at Rs 8 a kg in the wholesale market and are not finding buyers at the price due to lack of currency denominations that will be accepted by the dealers.

The Modi government’s decision, announced on 8 November, to replace Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 denomination currency with new ones post midnight took people by surprise. The government has said the move is aimed at tackling black money, fake currencies and corruption. In his address on television, the PM said the notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 “will not be legal tender from midnight tonight” and these will be “just worthless piece of paper.” The Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes constituted 86 percent of the value of the total currency in circulation.

Though everyone welcomed the move, the subsequent cash drought in ATMs and bank branches, has caused panic among the public at large.

Shortage of new currency notes
From a daily run of 1500 trucks carrying fruits and vegetable, the number has come down to 1000 at the Vashi market. There are around 4000 traders – license holders and unlicensed – at Vashi. Each trader would need at least 1 truck-load of either fruits or vegetables. Each truck carries around 10 tons of fruits or vegetables at an estimated price of Rs 2 lakhs.

“The traders don’t have new currency notes to give the farmers in exchange for goods. We cannot sell the produce to dealers on the annulled notes as that would mean a huge problem for us,” says Ashok Hande, chairman, fruits and traders association, Vashi.
Some fruits like apples can be stored for some days but the issue is now the store rooms in the market are full. “We have told farmers not to send their produce to the market anymore. Of the 1000 trucks that come daily, 100 trucks with produce goes waste – either the fruits and vegetables rot because there are no takers on account of the cash crisis due to demonetisation,” he says.

Hande estimates that each vegetable and fruit market in the city would be suffering around Rs 8-10 crore loss daily. “This would go up to Rs 3-4 crore in Pune and around Rs 5-7 core in Nagpur and much higher at around Rs 20 crore in Delhi. This is a national waste,” he says.

The traders say that the restricted money available from the banks are not helping them either. PM Modi had said people holding notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 can deposit the same in their bank and in post office accounts from 10 November until 30 December. The government had initially said customers can exchange up to Rs 4,000 of their old currency notes at the banks. This later increased to Rs 4,500 only to be cut to Rs 2,000 on Thursday. Similarly, ATM withdrawal limit was first set at Rs 2,000, which was later increased to Rs 2,500.

Even after 10 days post-demonetisation, the ATMs and bank branches are struggling to meet the panic-driven cash demand from regular customers. Part of the reason for the cash drought is that people are hoarding money anticipating difficult days ahead. To understand the picture, one needs to look at only State Bank of India alone, the country’s largest lender by assets, which saw withdrawals to the tune of Rs 18,665 crore, Rs 5,776 crore in exchange of old currency notes and deposits of Rs 1.14 lakh crore up to 16 November.

The farmers who send their produce through middle men to the Vashi market have been most hit, says Ashok Walunj, a trader of onions and potatoes and former director, APMC. “The dealers have the annulled notes which we cannot accept and hence the produce that is now coming to the market is in far lesser quantities,” he said, adding that even if a trader wants to change Rs 2,000 denomination notes, there are no takers. “No one has the time or space to run around looking for change,” he says exasperation seeping through his voice.

Lack of planning
The government’s move to flush out black money is ambitious, the traders said. Their complaints against the government is like the rest of India that points to ‘lack of planning’ on the part of the government. “India is not Canada or the US where online transactions are a way of life,” said Tajli, a wholesale vegetable vendor. “People here will use the latest Android phone but be wary of using the computer,” he said.

Balkrishna Shinde, fruit trader at Vashi would have a daily turnover of Rs 8-10 lakhs before the demonetisation was announced. Now, he says, he is struggling to make Rs 1,000 daily. “No one has the new currency notes to trade in for goods and the old notes cannot be accepted either,” he says.

Businesses trade in lakhs at the market and the Modi government issuing restricted amount of Rs 2000 notes and Rs 100 notes in short supply has hit them hard. Business in the market has gone down to 30-40 percent on a conservative estimate but traders are furious at the lack of business only because of the lack of currency notes in the denominations that can be used as legal tender. “When the government can have an entire machinery in place for voting – schools, municipal schools, etc – to conduct elections or make Adhaar cards, could they not have done the same by deploying bank managers and staff to dispense the money that is rightfully theirs?” asks Hussain. It is not the traders at APMC or the dealers who are suffering but the farmers whose produce is not being sold and are rotting due to lack of buyers because of lack of legal tender, he pointed out.

Tajli points out that the traders have to pay interest to the banks. “We still have to pay it. But there are no mathadi workers to be found here to load and unload the sacks of vegetables from trucks. No one has new currency to pay daily wages. He says that the situation is slowly limping back to normalcy with new currency notes. “However it will be at least six months before the business can go back to the pre-monetisation phase,” he said.

While hoping that the government may step up efforts to bring in normalcy on the currency front in the coming days, other trader community at APMC are keeping their fingers crossed, although deep inside they know it will take at least four to six months before business gets back to normalcy.

Data support from Kishor Kadam

First Published On : Nov 19, 2016 12:11 IST

Demonetisation: ‘Aakhir’ queue? Aam aadmi struggle for cash, big fishes appear nowhere

Since the government has already ordered bank staff to use indelible ink to mark those withdrawing money, here is another suggestion: Why not keep ballot boxes also at ATMs? We will know both the mood and hear the voice of the nation instead of believing what we all hear in our private echo chambers.

People standing in long queues to exchange their old Rs 500 and 1000 notes in Gurugram on Tuesday. PTIPeople standing in long queues to exchange their old Rs 500 and 1000 notes in Gurugram on Tuesday. PTI

People standing in long queues to exchange their old Rs 500 and 1000 notes in Gurugram on Tuesday. PTI

A week after the government’s surgical strike on currency notes, queues at banks and ATMs are getting longer and louder. What you hear in the queues is, a wag pointed out, a simple query: Aakhir queue?

It is impossible to reproduce the wisecracks and quips heard in these queues verbatim. But, suffice it to say: Money isn’t changing fast, the mood is. And, instead of laughing, most people have started crying.

Those outside banks are complaining of hardships in daily lives. Small traders are worried that business has come to a standstill. Construction activity has stopped. Builders have stalled ongoing projects. Farmers are waiting to sell their crops in the market but there is no cash in circulation.

In a park, where people gather after dark, a trader is wailing: “We will have to start from the scratch. This is like the new Partition of India, we are all being monetarily dislocated.”

The good thing about suffering is that it sounds noble only if it comes with the pleasure of knowing that others are suffering more. So, at the moment everybody is happy his nose is being cut to spike the rich man’s, ISI’s, Al Qaeda’s, Congress’, Mayawati‘s, Mulayam’s face. What he feels next would depend on what he sees next: His own bleeding nose or the disfigured face of the promised victim.

It will depend on how fast the promised change comes, both at the counters and in collective lives.

But, where are the intended faces in the ATM crowds? While the aam aadmi struggle, there is no sign of the big fish.

Where are they? One answer is simple, most of them have parked their money in various other hidden assets, their cash savings are not significant. As pointed out by Firstpost earlier, presuming that stashed cash is 50 percent of the currency in circulation, it is just 5-6 percent of the GDP. In essence, it is loose change.

And, even this loose change is getting absorbed. Here is how:

1. There are reports that networks of touts and bank staff are using identity cards in their possession to launder money for the hoarders of cash. Since there is no way of finding out how many times an ID has been used in different banks, it has reportedly turning into a neat business with a rate of return estimated to be 20-30 percent of the turnover.

2. Another set of touts are identifying people those who have legitimate borrowings from bank —money withdrawn and spent — to replace it with cash accumulated by someone else for a quick profit. For instance, if your account reflects Rs 2.5 lakh as withdrawal during the current financial year but you have spent that money, these touts will offer you this amount and seek just 70 percent in return.

3. The third set of launderers is of people hired to queue up at bank branches and get Rs 4,500 commission for a quick commission. They go from branch to branch, getting as much currency replaced as possible. Since the indelible ink will take some time to reach banks, this will go on for a while.

4. And the fourth category is of people with small sums — Rs 10-25 lakh — lying in cash at home. They are getting the amount adjusted through family and friends since the government has promised not to harass those who deposit small amounts, especially if they match I-T their returns.

While the aam aadmi struggles in those long queues by the day, the economy of greed goes to work at night.

You don’t need ballot boxes to know who is going to win this battle.

First Published On : Nov 16, 2016 18:17 IST

Farmers get possession of land in Singur, full process to be finished by November 10

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The wheel of the iconic Singur agitation came full circle today as farming resumed at the demolished Nano car plant site after a decade with Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee sprinkling mustard seeds on the land.The physical possession of 103 acres of land was given to 298 farmers spread over five mouzas well within the 12-week deadline set by the division bench of justices Arun Mishra and V Gopala Gowda of the Supreme Court on August 31. The bench also ruled that the land acquisition process in Singur for the car project was faulty and was not for public purpose.”Most of the portion of the Nano car shed has been razed to the ground. Only a small structure is left which will also be demolished in next few days,” a senior state government official said. Banerjee, who had steered massive agitation against ‘forcible’ land acquisition in 2006, said, “Singur will be a model before the world and a monument will be constructed here.”She said, “Except for 65 acres, the rest of the 997 acres of land is ready to be handed over to the farmers. By November 10, the process of giving physical possession of the entire land would be complete.”She talked to the farmers, enquired about the condition of the land and the kind of crops they plan to harvest in days to come. She also handed over crop kits to some farmers.Last month Banerjee had handed over land ‘parchas’ and cheques to the farmers in Singur. ‘Parcha’ is a document which establishes the ownership of a farmer over a piece of land in revenue records.

Cauvery row: Supreme Court directs Karnataka to release 2,000 cusecs to Tamil Nadu till further orders

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The apex court on Tuesday directed Karnataka to release 2,000 cusecs of Cauvery water per day to Tamil Nadu till further orders, however the hearing of the case will continue on Wednesday.The directive comes amidst the report by high level panel, which suggested of doing away with “outdated and unscientific water application techniques” to resolve the wrangle on Monday. The panel said that both Karnataka and Tamil Nadu were facing water shortage, creating unemployment and financial hardship for the people.The Supreme Court on Tuesday asked Karnataka and Tamil Nadu governments to maintain peace and harmony in the respective states. It said the sense of citizenry must prevail in two states and “morality of respect” should exist among their people.On September 30, the apex court had directed Karnataka to discharge 6,000 cusecs water from October 1-6, warning that no one would know when the “wrath of the law” would fall on it.High panel committeeThe team was constituted as per orders of the apex court to assess the realities in Cauvery basin areas in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. The high level central technical team had inspected Krishnaraja Sagar, Kabini dams in Karnataka, Mettur Bhavani Sagar dams in Tamil Nadu. The GS Jha-led team had interacted with the PWD officials and delta farmers in Thanjavur Nagapattinam and Tiruvarur. Farmers in Tiruchirapalli and delta regions told the team that samba crops will be damaged if water is not released into Cauvery by Karnataka.Meanwhile, the delta farmers in Tamil Nadu resorted to rail rook agitation on Monday urging the government to set up Cauvery management board.

High level technical team on Cauvery to submit report to SC today

Mon, 17 Oct 2016-09:25am , New Delhi , ANI
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The high level central technical team, led by central water commission chairman GS Jha, will submit its findings and report to the Supreme Court on Monday. The team was constituted as per orders of the apex court to assess the realities in Cauvery basin areas in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. The case filed by Tamil Nadu regarding Cauvery river water sharing will come up for hearing before the top court tomorrow. The high level central technical team had inspected Krishnaraja Sagar, Kabini dams in Karnataka, Mettur Bhavani Sagar dams in Tamil Nadu. The GS Jha-led team had interacted with the PWD officials and delta farmers in Thanjavur Nagapattinam and Tiruvarur. Farmers in Tiruchirapalli and delta regions told the team that samba crops will be damaged if water is not released into Cauvery by Karnataka. Meanwhile, the delta farmers in Tamil Nadu are resorting to rail rook agitation today urging the government to set up Cauvery management board.

Haryana: INLD to observe ‘black Diwali’ against ‘anti-people’ policies

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Haryana’s main Opposition party INLD said on Wednesday it will observe ‘Black Diwali’ to protest against the state government’s “anti-people” policies and “cheating of farmers by denying them MSP”.”All sections of the society, be it farmers, traders, employees or the youth, are fed up with anti-people policies of the Khattar government. Therefore, the INLD has decided it observe black Diwali this year,” said senior INLD leader Abhay Singh Chautala at a press conference in Chandigarh.The Leader of Opposition said his party will boycott the state’s golden jubilee celebrations on November 1, if the government fails to fulfil its promises. “If they are really concerned about the welfare of people, then they should immediately increase old-age pension to Rs 2000 and give unemployment allowance to the youth.”They should ensure adequate crop prices as per the Swaminathan Commission’s recommendations and employees should be given pay scales at par with Punjab,” he said, adding if they cannot take these steps, “we will boycott the celebrations”.He alleged the BJP government has failed to come out with a roadmap for the year-long celebrations from November 1 to October 31, 2017 to mark Haryana’s 50-years of statehood. “They are wasting nearly Rs 1,700 crore of public money (on the celebrations) to glorify their own and the party’s image. They want to implement the RSS’ agenda,” Chautala alleged, adding the INLD could call ‘Haryana bandh’ anytime after November 15.Chautala alleged as paddy arrivals at different ‘mandis’ (grain markets) in Haryana was picking up, farmers were facing tough times because they were not getting full minimum support price (MSP) for their crops. “Farmers have told us they are being denied MSP on the pretext of high moisture content in their crops,” he said.”Farmers are being paid at least Rs 200-300 per quintal lesser than the MSP. The Centre has fixed MSP Rs 1,470 per quintal for common variety paddy and Rs 1,510 per quintal for Grade ‘A’ paddy,” he claimed. Demanding an inquiry Chautala said, “Millers have deployed their men to check moisture content in crops. They show the moisture content beyond the permissible limit of 17% and then impose arbitrary cuts on MSP.” Chautala claimed as against Rs 1,330 per quintal MSP for bajra crop farmers were getting only Rs 1,220.He also alleged that Khattar government was preparing to handover Panchayat land to big industrialists. “In another ‘Tughlaki farman’ (order), the government has told Panchayats with revenue more than a crore that funds cannot be disbursed by the ‘sarpanches’ and it will be done by an executive engineer,” he claimed.

Watch | ‘Khoon Ka Dalal’: Rahul Gandhi hits out at PM Modi over surgical strike

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>While Rahul Gandhi had lauded PM Modi for the surgical strike earlier, calling it ‘the first time he had acted as the PM of India’, he changed track and hit out at him in Uttar Pradesh on Thursday. He said on the last day of his rally in poll-bound UP, “Aapne 2 cheeze zarur ki hain,ek Hindustani ko dusre se ladane ka kaam kia,bantne ka kaam kia hai. Ye desh Modi ji se insaaf chata hai, aur ye unki zimmedari hai. Kaha hai 15 lakh, kaha hai unke saare vaade. Modi ji promised bank accounts to everyone, but there is no money in those accounts. All his promises were fake. Humare jawan hain jinho ne khoon diya hai,jinho ne #surgicalstrike kiya,unke khoon ke peeche aap(PM) chhupe huye ho. Unki aap dalali kar rahe ho.”(You have done two things – One, Made Indians fight with others and two, made Indians fight with each other. This nation wants justice from Modi, that is his responsibility. Where is the Rs 15 lakh? What happened to your promises? You promised bank accounts for everyone but there is no money in those accounts. All his promises were fake. Our jawans, who gave their blood, who carried out the surgical strike, you are hiding behind their blood. You are trading their blood)Earlier, the Congress Vice President, who was speaking during his road show on the last day of his month-long Kisan Yatra from Deoria, pressed upon the Modi government to announce a debt waiver for farmers.Gandhi also took a swipe at ruling Samjwadi Party, saying he will give UP a government of farmers, labourers and people of every religion and caste and not that of a selected few.Lashing out at Modi government, he said only the Prime Minister and his friends were “happy” as money has come into the pockets of 15 top businessmen and not the farmers, labour and small shopkeepers.”Modiji had said he has a 56-inch chest and will fight out corruption, but he instead brought out a ‘Fair and Lovely scheme’ for turning the blackmoney of the country’s thieves into white. The money has not come into the pockets of farmers, labour and small shopkeepers, but went into those of 15 top businessmen. Only Modiji and his friends are happy,” he said.Modi government had announced Income Declaration Scheme (IDS) — a one-time opportunity to those with hidden income to come clean by making the disclosure and paying 45 per cent tax and penalty. After the end of the four-month window on September 30, the government had pegged the disclosed amount at Rs 65,250 crore.Training his guns on the family-led Samajwadi Party government in the state, Gandhi said, “Uttar Pradesh will not have a government of just 15 persons. The government here will be of farmers, labour, small shopkeepers, and of people from every religion and caste.”The Congress vice President said he will force the BJP-led NDA government at the Centre for a loan waiver for the distressed farmers. “We want higher MSP for farmers, we want to waive the farm loans so join me and come to Delhi along with me. We all will pressurise Modiji to waive farm loans. “In the last two and half years Narendra Modi waived Rs 1.10 lakh crore loan to 15 big corporates. Then why can’t he waive the farmers’ loan,” he said.Gandhi’s yatra passed through various constituencies in this district and entered Modinagar where he was accorded a rousing welcome by party workers before he headed for Delhi. He is accompanied by party’s chief ministerial face Sheila Dikshit, UPPCC president Raj Babbar and actor-turned politician Nagma. The Kisan Yatra will end at Parliament Street in the national capitalWith inputs from agencies

Rahul Gandhi slams PM Modi on black money, asks govt to waive debt for farmers

Meerut: Rahul Gandhi on Thursday targeted Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the IDS window alleging that he had failed to act against black money despite his talk of “56-inch chest” to fight corruption, and instead brought out a scheme for turning into white the ill-gotten wealth of “thieves”.

The Congress Vice-President, who was speaking during his road show on the last day of his month-long Kisan Yatra from Deoria in poll-bound Uttar Pradesh to Delhi, pressed the Modi government to announce a debt waiver for farmers.

Gandhi also took a swipe at ruling Samjwadi Party, saying he will give UP a government of farmers, labourers and people of every religion and caste and not that of a selected few.

Meerut : Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi addresses supporters during his Kisan Yatra in Meerut on Thursday. PTI Photo (PTI10_6_2016_000111B)Meerut : Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi addresses supporters during his Kisan Yatra in Meerut on Thursday. PTI Photo (PTI10_6_2016_000111B)

Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi addresses supporters during his Kisan Yatra in Meerut. PTI

Lashing out at Modi government, he said only the Prime Minister and his friends were “happy” as money has come into the pockets of 15 top businessmen and not the farmers, labour and small shopkeepers.

“Modiji had said he has a 56-inch chest and will fight out corruption, but he instead brought out a ‘Fair and Lovely scheme’ for turning the blackmoney of the country’s thieves into white.

“The money has not come into the pockets of farmers, labour and small shopkeepers, but went into those of 15 top businessmen. Only Modiji and his friends are happy,” he said.

Modi government had announced Income Declaration Scheme (IDS) — a one-time opportunity to those with hidden income to come clean by making the disclosure and paying 45 percent tax and penalty. After the end of the four-month window on 30 September, the government had pegged the disclosed amount at Rs 65,250 crore.

Training his guns on the family-led Samajwadi Party government in the state, Gandhi said, “Uttar Pradesh will not have a government of just 15 persons. The government here will be of farmers, labour, small shopkeepers, and of people from every religion and caste.”

The Congress vice-president said he will force the BJP-led NDA government at the Centre for a loan waiver for the distressed farmers.

“We want higher MSP for farmers, we want to waive the farm loans so join me and come to Delhi along with me. We all will pressurise Modiji to waive farm loans.

“In the last two and half years Narendra Modi waived Rs 1.10 lakh crore loan to 15 big corporates. Then why can’t he waive the farmers’ loan,” he said.

Gandhi’s yatra passed through various constituencies in this district and entered Modinagar where he was accorded a rousing welcome by party workers before he headed for Delhi.

He is accompanied by party’s chief ministerial face Sheila Dikshit, UPPCC president Raj Babbar and actor-turned politician Nagma.

The Kisan Yatra will end on Thursday at Parliament Street in the national capital.

Cauvery row: Tamil Nadu hails SC verdict as historic, Karnataka CM says order ‘unimplementable’

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Political parties and farmers in Tamil Nadu on Tuesday termed as historic, the Supreme Court verdict directing the Centre to constitute Cauvery Management Board and urged the Union government to set up the body sans delay.The response was completely different in Karnataka with CM saying the order is unimplementable.Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa came in for praise for her pursuit of legal measures over the Cauvery issue, which eventually led to the ruling. President of Tamil Nadu All Farmers’ Federations, P R Pandian said “I welcome the verdict whole heartedly, all the farmers are very happy.” “We thank Chief Minister Jayalalithaa for the legal measures she undertook to secure the Apex Court verdict,” he told PTI,adding the ruling also comes after a slew of protests over several years by Tamil Nadu farmers, supported by all sections of people, political parties and traders. He said farmers are now confident that the Cauvery Board would order release of water to ryots in accordance with the needs and without any political interference.Reacting to the SC verdict, Karnataka CM Siddaramaiah said, ” I have called an all party meeting tomorrow, will discuss the pros and cons of the SC order”, He also said that this order is unimplementable. Farmers wing of CPI(M), Tamil Nadu Vivasayigal Sangam urged the Centre to implement the order without delay and the state government to make efforts to get additional quantum of water as 6,000 cusecs will not be sufficient. PMK chief Ramadoss said, “though the Supreme Court direction to release 6000 cusecs of Cauvery water to Tamil Nadu per day from tomorrow till September 27 is not sufficient, the ruling to constitute CMB is historic and we welcome it whole heartedly.”He said the order has given joy and confidence to lakhs of farmers that now “doing farming is possible in Cauvery Delta districts of Tamil Nadu.” He wanted the Centre to take immediate steps for setting up CMB. Welcoming the ruling, CPI(M) State Secretary G Ramakrishnan and CPI State Secretary R Mutharasan urged the Centre to implement the order without any delay. Ramakrishnan said 6,000 cusecs would not be sufficient and that at least 12,000 cusecs should be released till the month end. MDMK chief Vaiko said the Apex Court through its order has upheld the rights of Tamil Nadu on the Cauvery waters. He too demanded the Centre immediately constitute Cauvery Management Board and Cauvery Water Regulatory Authority. All India National League Party chief S J Inayatullah said the “verdict is a huge victory for Chief Minister Jayalalithaa who has been in pursuit of a legal struggle on the issue,” and greeted her for the apex court ruling. Tamilaga Vazhvurimai Katchi chief Velmurugan said his party welcomed the announcement and thanked Jayalalithaa for taking appropriate legal steps to obtain the court order.Kongunadu Makkal Desiya Katchi chief E R Easwaran said the order was a culmination of a long time struggle. He also wanted the authorities to ensure the safety of Tamils in Karnataka. He also wanted Karnataka to ensure safety and security of Tamils living there as protests have begun in some places following the apex court verdict.

Maharashtra: Parched Nashik awaits rain

Nashik district has seen 4.09% rainfall this monsoon so far, leaving farmers and citizens high and dry. The water stock in the dams in the district has further depleted to 3%, which has raised the concern of the administration as well.According to weatherman Dr Shriniwas Aundhkar, director of Mahatma Gandhi Mission at the Centre for Astronomy and Space Technology, Nanded, the arrival of monsoon in Maharashtra has been through the eastern side over the Bay of Bengal and is moving northwards via Madhya Pradesh. This has left the northeastern parts of Nashik, Dhule, Jalgaon, up to Jalna dry.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”There was some drizzle over these parts for a day or two, but there has been no rainfall in the catchment area. Rain in the belt of Nashik, Dhule and Jalgaon is expected by July-end,” said Aundhkar, who added that the pattern of rainfall in Maharashtra has not been uniform this season so far.Normally, the monsoon moves upwards from the southwest region, but this season it has changed its direction and come over the Bay of Bengal, missing the northern parts of the state, he explained.”In Nashik region, rains arrive only after June; this has become a pattern now.”The region has also witnessed unseasonal rainfall with hailstorm from October, another pattern. “This is happening due to the depression being created in the Arabian Sea during that period,” said Aundhkar.Even though dark clouds gather over Nashik almost everyday, they seem to drift away without showering. Farmers are worried as the sowing is on hold, and a delayed kharif will further delay the crop cycle.”As of now there is no water. Our village, lined by the Godavari river and once known as the green belt, is almost 90% dry now. The river is completely dry, water stock has depleted. Farmers are waiting to start sowing. This situation will be a major concern for sugarcane and vegetable growers. With less supply of vegetables in the market, prices will soar. A delayed monsoon is a vicious circle,” said Suresh Bhor, a farmer from Chandori in Niphad tehsil of Nashik district.

Inflation has shot up under Modi government, farmers’ hands are empty: Jyotiraditya Scindia

Senior Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia alleged that woes of farmers got compounded and inflation soared in the last two years under the Narendra Modi government. “Farmers have nothing left in their hands and common man is facing lot of difficulties due to manifold increase in inflation rate,” Scindia said addressing a rally at Chicholi ahead of Ghodadongri Assembly by-election scheduled to be held on May 30.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The by-poll was necessitated due to the death of sitting BJP MLA Sajjan Singh Uikey. He said farmers’ hands used to be always full under the Congress rule. “But soon after the BJP came to power, their (farmers’) hands became empty and they have left with nothing now,” the former minister said. He was addressing the rally along with the Madhya Pradesh unit Congress president Arun Yadav for the party nominee and former minister Pratap Singh Uikey.Yadav said though BJP came to power on the promise of “acche din”, the cost of lentils has gone up from Rs 55 per kg to Rs 160 per kg. “When (cost of lentils) was Rs 55 per kg, BJP used to say ‘mahngai dayan ho gayi hai’ (inflation has become a monster). Why the same BJP is treating inflation as its ‘mausi’ (aunt) now,” Yadav asked.

Farmers write to President Mukherjee, demand waiver for loan and power bills

Pleading fair price for farm produce, the Shetkari Sanghatana has launched a campaign through which hundreds of farmers have started sending letters to president Pranab Mukherjee demanding loan waiver and waiver of power bills for the farmers to prevent suicides.The convener of the Shetkari KarjaMukti Andolan (Agitation for the loan waiver of farmers) Vitthalrao Pawar has issued a press release informing that thousands are farmers have sent letters to president in this regard. Pawar informed that the campaign would be continued so that awareness is created among the farmers since every farmer has to submit a pledge with the letter which is printed by the Shetkari Sanghatana. The pledge reaffirms faith of the farmers in one point agenda of getting fair price for the farm produce.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Pawar said that if the government purchases all farm produce from the farmers though marketing federation or Agricultural Produce Market Committees it would take care of the assured income for the m. He added that wrong policies are responsible for farmers’ suicides which has been on a rise in the last one decade. He said that it was farmers who brought the country out from the era of begging and were instrumental for ushering Green Revolution in the country. He said, despite this, farmers were left to opt for suicides and government was creating atmosphere conducive for suicides instead of providing preventing measures.Pawar pointed out that Dr Swaminathan Committee, in its report submitted in 2005, had recommended for paying price to farm produce which would match fifty per cent more than the production cost for the farmers but it has not been implemented yet. He said that the Swaminathan Committee had recommended this to prevent farmers’ suicides and government has ignored it till date. He said that farmers are committing suicides and those who are laying their lives for protecting the borders are sons of farmers. He said that since state government as well as Union government has failed to prevent suicides, Shetkari Sanghatana has started campaign in which thousands of farmers are sending letters to president Pranab Mukherjee.

Drought-displaced farmers should be given accomodation in camps: MNS

Farmers from drought-affected areas in the state have been migrating to the city, hoping to earn alternative livelihood and seeking shelter under bridges or on pavements in areas such as Thane and Navi Mumbai. Now, the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) has demanded that these farmers be given temporary accommodation in unused and vacant transit camps at Bandra Reclaimation.Tushar Aphale, the party’s vibhag adhyaksh from Bandra, has written a letter to the chief executive officer of MHADA urging the housing authority to allow the farmers to take shelter in the transit camp. “These farmers have come to the city along with their family hoping to find some job and earn a livelihood. They are living on the streets in the city and in neighbouring Thane and Navi Mumbai at present. They have young daughters and women folk with them. They are from respectable backgrounds but cannot afford rented homes even in slums. If they are given temporary accommodation in these transit camps, they will at least have shelter,” Aphale said.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>He added that even though the letter has already been written to the MHADA CEO, he will personally meet the authority’s officials and request them to consider his demands. “It has been nine years and the transit camp is still lying vacant and unused. No one has ever been given accommodation in this camp. The farmers and their family can stay here until they find work in the city and earn, and they can vacate the camp when they want to go back,” Aphale said.

Maharashtra will learn Israeli technology to revive state agriculture

The Maharashtra government has decided to rope in the Israeli government’s agriculture department to learn about and adopt advance agri technology and increase crop production. Israel will set up six excellence centres across the state to do research on orange, mango pomegranate, among other fruits. The centre at Jalgaon will be dedicated to research on banana.”The move will help our farmers make use of technology. Israel does not have its own soil or water. They import both things. Yet, they are number one agricultural crop production. We are facing a severe shortage of water. So the Israeli technology will help us get maximum yield with minimum use of water,” said agriculture minister Eknath Khadse.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>He said agricultural growth in Maharashtra has ceased in the last several years.”And continuous drought has worsened the situation in the state. We will work in coordination with the agriculture department of Israel. Many farmers delegations have been visiting Israel to study technology. These tours were being organised by private parties. Now we have decided to organise such tours in large numbers at government level,” said Khadse.He said in Israel, the semi-desert Negev area resembled some parts of Maharashstra. “Weather in both parts is dry, so we can easily use their technology in Maharashtra. If we want to see agriculture surviving and subsequently thriving in the state, we have no option but to maximise the use of technology,” said the minister.Meanwhile, NCP leader Jayant Patil said, “There is a 20% rise in farmers’ suicides in Maharashtra. The BJP-led government has been talking about long-term solutions, but what about today? Farmers are dying without food and work. We welcome the use of technology in agriculture, but it is not going to resolve the current crisis.”He said the government was not serious and sensitive about the problem. “It has only been making announcements after announcements. Farmers are waiting for a complete waiver of loan. They should be given seeds and other monetary assistance ahead of the monsoon,” added Patil.Maharashtra witnessed 3,220 farmer suicides in 2015-16 — highest in the last several years.

Farmers in Odisha, part of National Horticulture Mission, yet to receive subsidy

Berhampur: Farmers in Odisha’s Ganjam district, who had built different structures as part of National Horticulture Mission in 2015-16, on Thursday alleged that they were yet to receive the subsidy guaranteed under the centrally-sponsored programme.

Representational image. ReutersRepresentational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

“We constructed green sheds for mushroom cultivation on getting work orders. Though 100 beneficiaries had submitted the completion applications to the authorities, the subsidy amount is yet to be released,” alleged B Narasingh Rao, president of Ganjam district branch, Odisha Mushroom Growners Federation.

Apprising the district collector of their problems on Wednesday, the mushroom growers in the district threatened to launch a strike. Collector P Choudhury has assured the farmers of taking up the matter with the horticulture director, he said.

“The subsidy will be provided to the beneficiaries as soon as the verification is completed,” Horticulture deputy director Ganjam Bhagaban Das, said.

Maharashtra govt to deploy 33,000 agri-trained youths to guide farmers

The Maharashtra government has decided to deploy 33,000 youths trained in agriculture to guide and help farmers in choosing seeds and crops and in conducting soil-testing. The move is aimed at increasing the yield of farmers and ending the agragrian crisis.Eknath Khadse, the state agriculture minister, said that the government would train these youngsters, who would visit farms across the state. “The central government had launched the Agricultural Technology Management Agency (ATMA) scheme, the funding for which would be provided by the Centre and state in a ratio of 60:40. There is no shortage of funds. We had decided to genuinely help farmers. Most of them do have basic traditional farming knowledge. We now want to bring in professionalism and the use of scientific methods to increase their yield,” Khadse said.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Khadse added that the government is tapping students from agriculture colleges and diploma courses. “These students can work part-time as volunteers. They have a background in agriculture, which would help them handle and guide farmers in a better way. The project also involves adopting bottom-up planning procedures for the setting up of a research and extension agency to make dissemination of technology more farmer-driven,” he added.Khadse said that agricultural growth has been reported to be negative over the past few years. “But agriculture, in fact, is the base and backbone of the country. Our government has decided to put focus on farmers and to strengthen them. Once agriculture gets a boost, then other sectors, too, will prosper. That apart, incidents of farmers committing suicide would also come down. We are working relentlessly towards this direction,” he said.The ATMA would be increasingly responsible at the district level for all activities that involve technology-dissemination. “It would be linked to all the line departments, including the research organisations and non-governmental organisations and agencies in the district associated with agricultural development. Besides, focus will also be put on the departments of agriculture, animal husbandry, horticulture and fisheries etc. Each research extension unit would retain its institutional identity,” said a senior government official.

Firstpost Ground Report: “The farmer is finished”; two portraits from Telangana speak of rural India’s distress migration

Jugraj Prabhai would have liked to eat something before he begins the first eight-hour session of labour at 4 am at a brick kiln in a place so far away from his home. But there is no time; his wife brings him tea the colour of light straw in a tumbler,and then the four of them – Prabhai, his wife and their two children – get to work.

Till about noon, the Prabhai family works without rest and then retires for a couple of hours to have their first meal of the day. It is the same almost every day: rice that costs them 12 rupees a kilo, and potato-tomato curry. Then from 2 pm onwards till midnight, the four will work again.

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Prabhai’s home is in Kantabanji in Odisha’s Balangir district. He is a marginal farmer who owns a small piece of land. “But now the paddy I am able to produce in a season is not even enough for my family,” he says. So for four years now, he has been coming to Telangana to work in the kilns. It takes them two days and two nights of travel by train to reach here. “I have heard about Bhubaneswar, but I have never been there,” says Prabhai.

According to the Economic Survey 2013-14, the number of rural poor is the highest in Odisha (along with Madhya Pradesh). It also has the lowest spending in rural areas (Rupees 1,003) of which over 57 percent is spent on food. Thousands of families from Odisha’s Kalahandi-Balangir-Koraput region migrate mostly to southern states to find work. Most of them get employed in brick kilns through agents who are locally called “sardars”. It is a lucrative business. Many sardars are politically affiliated and send hundreds of thousands of people like Prabhai to work in kilns across Telangana and other states. For every brick that migrants like Prabhai will make, the sardar will earn a commission.

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Prabhai’s family will work in Telangana for four to six months beginning November after which they will return. It is very difficult to understand how much the family will earn in these months. Even Prabhai is not sure. He says he has taken an advance of 15,000 rupees from the kiln owner. The four of them are able to make about 1,000 bricks a day. For every 15,000 bricks, the family is paid 1,000 rupees and a little food allowance (50-60 rupees a day). It will be adjusted against the advance he has taken.

“I don’t like coming here,” Prabhai says, “every year I say to myself: we will not come here, but come November, I find myself making this journey.”

It is not that he did not look for work back home. “I tried to work as a coolie in the town, but that was hardly paying,” he says. Even the Centre’s rural employment guarantee scheme (MGNREGS) has failed to provide relief to Prabhai. “Don’t they promise 100 days of work?” he asks. “Last year, I only got work for eight days.”

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“Every year I think I will not come here; but then I wonder how I will feed my family, and then I end up here,” says Adam, a Dalit from the Madiga caste from Eklaspuram in Telangana’s Mahabubnagar district.

During his father’s time, Adam says, caste oppression was so terrible that he would not be allowed to even pass by the houses of upper-caste families. His father decided to convert to Christianity before Adam was born. “The caste oppression has reduced back home now, but we are now forced to migrate because of poverty,” he says.

Adam is a marginal farmer, too. He would grow a little groundnut, cotton and rice, but in the last two years, severe drought conditions have led to large-scale migration from Mahabubnagar and other districts. “Since two years it is worse, but we have been under distress for more than ten years now due to crop failure,” says Adam. According to a government estimate, more than ten lakh people like Adam have migrated in the last few years from rural Mahabubnagar alone.

Image courtesy: Rahul PanditaImage courtesy: Rahul Pandita

Image courtesy: Rahul Pandita

A few years ago, Adam took a loan of 50,000 rupees from a landlord after his crops failed. He was hoping that the situation would be better in the next season. But after his crops were wrecked again, he decided to migrate to Ranga Reddy to work in a brick kiln. “I took a loan from the kiln owner to repay the loan I had taken previously,” he says. It has been six years and the cycle of debt has still not come to an end. Did he not get any work under MGNREGS? “Only in patches, which is not enough,” he says.

In Ranga Reddy, due to the efforts of the local police administration, the children of such migrants have been attached to nearby government schools and anganwadi centres. “It is a tragedy for the children because they cannot continue with whatever little education they might have been getting back home,” says Ranga Reddy’s police chief, Rema Rajeshwari. But in season after season of migration, the children end up learning very little.

“The farmer is finished,” says Adam, making a gesture of a knife cutting across his throat.

The break is over. He has to return to the kiln to complete his target.

Sit-in ‘Satyagraha’ by farmers enters second day in Maharashtra

The farmers are demanding stringent implementation of the Forest Rights Act (FRA), and forest land, pasture land and temple land. The sit-in ‘Satyagraha’ here by thousands of farmers, on various agrarian issues including loan waiver, entered the second day on Thursday.LIVE England vs New Zealand 1st Semi-Final T20, ICC World T20 2016, March 30, 2016The agitation was going on in a peaceful manner, an official of the city police control room said. The farmers under the banner of Maharashtra Rajya Kisan Sabha (affiliated to the All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS)). yesterday launched an indefinite sit-in protest on various agrarian issues including loan waiver, fair and remunerative price, drought relief, electricity bills etc, at Anant Kanhere ground in the city. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The farmers are demanding stringent implementation of the Forest Rights Act (FRA), and forest land, pasture land and temple land to be vested in the name of the actual tillers (owners).

Why the govt’s plan to double farmers’ income by 2022 will be a tough task

By Abhishek Waghmare

“We are grateful to our farmers for being the backbone of the country’s food security. We need to think beyond food security and give back to our farmers a sense of income security. Government will, therefore, reorient its interventions in the farm and non-farm sectors to double the income of the farmers by 2022.” —Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, budget speech, February 29, 2016.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

After adjusting for rising costs, an Indian farmer’s income effectively rose 5% per year over a decade (2003-2013), according to an IndiaSpend analysis of various government data, calling into question Jaitley’s declaration of doubling income over the next five years.

Doubling of real incomes would be “a miracle of miracles”, as it would imply a compound growth rate of 12% per annum, Ashok Gulati, former chairman of Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices and Professor, Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations, wrote in Indian Express.

The average monthly income from raising crops and rearing animals increased from Rs 1,060 in 2003 to Rs 3,844 in 2013, according to the report Situational Assessment of Agricultural Households by the National Sample Survey Organisation, a compounded annual income growth rate of 13.7%.

The 2003 report considered only land-owning farmers, while the 2013 report considered all agricultural households, including landless labourers, we will consider only incomes from cultivation and rearing animals.

To double the income of farmers by 2022, in nominal (numerical) terms—which do not take inflation into account—would require a 15% annual income growth rate (compounded), according to our estimates.

So, the government would seemingly have to ensure a marginal increase in the rate of income growth—keeping business as usual—from 13.7 % to 15% per year to deliver on the promise of doubling farmer income.

However, there are four hurdles:

* increasing input costs, such as seeds, fertilisers and irrigation
* irrelevance of minimum support price, which the government pays farmers when it buys their crops
* absence of market infrastructure, such as warehouses and cold storages, and
* the fact that 85% of farmers do not benefit from insurance.

Unless these issues are addressed, a farmer’s income will only double nominally. Real income in 2022, adjusted for inflation and increased expenditure, will still be close to 2016 income, according to this report by Devinder Sharma, an eminent food and trade policy analyst.

Rising input costs, declining profits

Profit margins of farmers are declining because of dropping farm productivity and a rise in input costs.

While income from cultivation in 2013 became 3.6 times that in 2003, input costs tripled in the same period, almost nullifying the effect of tripling income.

Does it help any longer that government buys harvests?

Started in 1965, the Minimum Support Price (MSP) is a system of artificial pricing that attempts to ensure just remuneration to farmers. The Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP) fixes the MSP of procurement for 23 agricultural items produced in India.

While the announcement of increases in MSP should act as an encouragement to farmers when they sow, three factors do not let this happen:

1. There is very low awareness about MSP — less than 25% of farmers on an average, while for some crops, less than 5% — know about MSP.

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2. Over the last three years, the MSP for all crops increased from up to 12% per year, compared with up to 42% in 2012-13, up to 53% in 2011-12, and up to 39% in 2010-11.

3. MSP increases can fuel inflation—and, so, higher monthly expenses—in urban areas.

The MSP for ragi (finger millet) was hiked 52% in 2008-09, for tur dal (pigeon pea) 52% in 2010-11, for rapeseed/mustard 35% in 2011-12, and for jowar 53% in 2012-13.

Farmers get as little as 10% of final price

Efficient agricultural markets can also be a potent tool for poverty reduction, noted this 2012 Reserve Bank of India report.

Farmers do not get remunerative prices due to the limited reach of MSP—less than 25% farmers know about MSP—and an agricultural marketing system that delivers only a small fraction (10 to 30% of the retail price, according to this Business Standard report) of the price to the farmer, said this NITI Aayog report.

Regulatory barriers have constrained investments in agriculture markets and lowered capacity of farmers to be domestically and internationally competitive.

Multiplicity of taxes under Agriculture Produce and Marketing Committee laws in various states have undermined interests of farmers and benefitted middlemen, said the NITI Aayog report.

Only 15% farmers benefited from crop insurance

Only 19 million — or 15% — Indian farmers benefitted from crop insurance schemes announced by the government in 2014-15.

As many as 37.2 million farmers were covered under the three schemes—National Agricultural Insurance Scheme, Modified National Agricultural Insurance Scheme and Weather Based Crop Insurance Scheme — but only half of them benefitted from it.

Half of those who did not use insurance were unaware of crop insurance, the NSS report said.

Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (Prime Minister’s Crop Insurance Scheme), the latest government initiative, merges existing insurance schemes, reduces the premium to be paid by farmers and removes the limit on government subsidy to insurance.

“China started off reforms with agriculture in 1978, and during 1978-84, agriculture GDP (gross domestic product) increased by more than 7% per year and farm incomes by more than 14% per year due to deregulation of prices, halving poverty in just six years,” Ashok Gulati wrote in this research paper.

With agricultural GDP in India growing 1% in 2015-16 (advance estimate), it will not be easy to increase individual farm incomes 14% per year.

(Waghmare is an analyst with IndiaSpend.)

(IndiaSpend.com is a data-driven, public-interest journalism non-profit.)

Radha Mohan Singh charges Bihar govt with failing to utilise funds to boost agriculture

Union Minister Radha Mohan Singh on Monday charged Bihar government with failing to fully utilise funds allocated to it by the Centre to boost agriculture, which he said does not even figure in the state government’s ‘7-point agenda’ of development.The Centre has doubled its allocation to Bihar for development of agriculture, but the Nitish Kumar government has not utilised the funds due to its insensitivity towards the farmers, the Union Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Minister told reporters here.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Grand Alliance government has also failed to take advantage of various central schemes for development of farm sector much to the chagrin of the farmers of the state, Singh said.Hitting out at the chief minister, Singh, MP from Purvi Champaran, said the Bihar government does not even have agriculture sector in the seven resolves (saat nischay) of its priority areas of governance.Stating that Bihar has unlimited potential for growth in farm sector, Singh said the Centre has launched various schemes for development of agriculture in the eastern states, which must draw optimum advantage from such programmes.The Bihar government must work in tandem with the Centre for development of agriculture sector in the state, he said.

NCP’s Surpiya Sule attacks CM Fadnavic on Maharashtra farmers’ issues; experts blame Bhujbal’s arrest

After the arrest of the senior NCP leader Chhagan Bhujbal, the unwritten pact between the BJP and NCP seems to have broken. In a first, NCP MP Supriya Sule took on chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, calling his polices faulty and non-farmer friendly.Sule, who recently led a farmers’ protest in Baramati demanding a complete loan waiver, said if the chief minister did not start fodder camps in drought-ridden regions of the state, the NCP members will leave the cattle at the door of CM’s official residence, Varsha bungalow at Malabar Hill.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Sule claimed the Centre and the state were not serious about drought. She said the chief minister must start the fodder camps and start supplying water tankers in drought-hit areas within the next 10 days. “Otherwise, we will sit on an indefinite protest in front the respective collector’s office. We will leave cattle at CM’s official residence,” she said.Sule demanded that the farmers’ electric bills and students’ admission and examination fees should be waived off completely. “This year, a record number of farmers suicides – 3,200 – took place in Maharashtra. Even businessmen are committing suicide now. Actually, this section vehemently supported prime minister Narendra Modi and BJP. Now, they are repenting,” she said.Sule added that at the time Fadnavis was in the Opposition, he had demanded that the government be charged under section 302 (punishment for murder) for farmers’ suicides. “Now we demand the same. The government has failed to the gauge the gravity and severity of the situation. It should announce a complete loan waiver. The decision can give major relief to farmers,” she said.Sule also expressed surprise that the farmers who want a farm pond have to apply for it online. “The government is playing with the emotions of the farmers. It has made a budgetary provision of Rs50,000 for the farm pond. I challenge Fadnavis to complete the project in Rs50,000. I am ready to leave politics then. It shows that the government has no understanding of farming and the ground reality. They do not even intend to learn. They want to make policies sitting in their air-conditioned cabins,” said the Opposition leader of Legislative Council.Meanwhile, a political observer said, “Sule attacking the CM was surprising. NCP chief Sharad Pawar and Sule have never personally targeted Fadnavis. This is the result of NCP leader Bhujbal’s arrest. The NCP was under the wrong impression that their initial unconditional support to BJP will help them protect their docked leaders.”

Maharashtra: Budget session starting today to be ‘drought-prone’

The budget session of the state starts on Wednesday (today) and the government’s focus would be on the measures to mitigate the agrarian crisis brought about by successive droughts.Finance minister Sudhir Mungantiwar would present the budget on March 18.While speaking to media persons, chief minister Devendra Fadnavis said on the eve of the session that the state is facing an unprecedented drought, especially in Marathwada.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Centre has provided Rs 3,000 crore for drought-mitigation and the state has already distributed Rs 2,536 crore into the accounts of farmers. Another Rs 2,000 crore would be distributed soon. He informed that there are 15,747 villages facing the worst drought situation.Mungantiwar said that he would provide priority to drought-mitigation. If farmers are not happy, the entire state cannot be happy, he said. Farmers have the first right on state treasury, he said.The state government has provided Rs 12,000 crore for drought-mitigation in the last one-and-a-half years. He said that he would not hesitate providing more.The worst drought has already drawn the entire cabinet to the three highly affected districts of Marathwada – Beed, Osmanabad and Latur. There are 14 districts from Vidarbha and Marathwada bearing the brunt of the fury.The state would have to provide additional outlay for cotton as well as soybean growers since both crops are not covered under the crop insurance scheme. Now, since the state government has decided to provide insurance benefits to these farmers, the budget would have to bear an additional burden.Fadnavis said that after the debate on the severe drought condition, the state had announced an unprecedented package of Rs 10,512 crore on December 17, 2015, during the winter session in Nagpur.In 2014, the state’s water stock was equivalent to 50% of the storage capacity of dams, with none of the revenue divisions having less than 35% of water in the dams.Marathwada dams had 37% water while those in Marathwada had only 18% water last year by the first week of March.

Karnataka: Farmers protest on streets against Bengaluru Traffic Police

The farmers staged a protest on Thursday over the Bengaluru Traffic Police Department’s decision not to allow tractors to ply inside the city.The farmers blocked roads during their protest following which the police had to intervene to bring the situation under control. The police personnel later baton charged the protestors. With an estimated crop loss in 70 percent of sown area, Karnataka has become the first in country to declare drought in the Rabi season. It has sought a Central aid of Rs 1,400 crore.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Last year, the state witnessed more than 1,000 farmer suicides – the highest in a decade.

Two months into 2016, Maharashtra reports 57 farmer suicides

As many as 57 farmers have committed suicide in Maharashtra so far during 2016 due to agrarian reasons. Last year, Maharashtra government had reported 725 cases of farmers suicides.In a written reply to the Lok Sabha, Minister of State for Agriculture Mohanbhai Kundariya submitted the data of ‘number of suicides committed by farmers due to agrarian reason as reported by the state governments’.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>As per the data, as many as 1,690 cases of farmer suicides were reported in 10 states during 2015. The maximum number of farmers suicide cases was reported in Maharashtra at 725, followed by Punjab at 449, Telangana 342, Karnataka 107 and Andhra Pradesh 58.In 2016 so far, 57 farmers suicide cases have been reported all from Maharashtra. Other states have not yet reported any farmer suicide case to the Centre.Kundariya informed that the government has recently approved a new crop insurance scheme to protect farmers from crop failure.

90% of farmers made to wait for MSP of crops: Report

A whopping 90% of the farmers in Maharashtra are paid the minimum support price (MSP) for their produce after over a month, while states like Karnataka pay their growers on the same day of a purchase, finds a recent study conducted by NITI Aayog.Only 20% of the farmers in the country receive the MSP of their produce on the spot, the study reveals. Titled ‘Evaluation Report on Efficacy of Minimum Support Prices on Farmers’, the study — the results of which were published recently — was conducted by NITI Aayog at the agriculture ministry’s request. It covered 14 states and 1,440 households. The reference period of the study was from 2007 to 2011.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The report also highlights that delayed payments have a negative impact. It reads, “The needy farmers do not wait for delayed payments and, hence, sell their produce at an even lower price to middlemen instead of waiting for the MSP payment.”A large percentage of farmers in Maharashtra, including those in severely drought-affected regions, are unaware about the MSP before sowing their crops, which makes their life tough and unplanned, while also forcing them, when often under distress, to sell their produce at a lower rate than the MSP.The report says, “In the selected districts of Yavatmal and Latur, 75% and 33% of the households were aware of the MSP. Seventeen per cent in Yavatmal and 44% in Latur knew about the MSP before the sowing season and the rest after the sowing season.”The report is probably an eye-opener for the Maharashtra government, which has been struggling for over a decade now to arrest the increasing number of farmer suicides, which touched 1,000 in 2015.Based on the recommendations of the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices, the department of agriculture and co-operation declares the MSPs for 22 crops before their sowing seasons every year. The idea behind the MSP is to give guaranteed prices to the farmers and protect them from market imperfections. States run a network of procurement centres to purchase produce directly from the farmers.Procurement centres being far away which in turn results in heavy transportation costs, these centres not being opened on time, too much paper work, and a lack of covered facilities for the temporary storage of produce are among other deterrents cited by the farmers. “The delay in payment needs to be corrected and immediate payment should be ensured, besides more awareness programmes for farmers,” recommends the report.A professor of agriculture said, “Awareness of the MSP increases the bargaining power of farmers. Non-dissemination of information only helps middlemen and their political bosses.”

Farmers’ income should be doubled by 2022: Narendra Modi

Pitching for converting farmers’ challenges into opportunities, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday urged all states to give priority to implementation of the “roadmap” for boosting the agriculture sector with a target of doubling the income of farmers by 2022.Addressing a farmers’ rally here, he sought to hardsell the recently-launched Crop Insurance scheme, which he termed as a “protective shield”, and talked about various other initiatives including plans to launch e-platform for marketing of agriculture products in April as part of efforts to ensure welfare of the farming community. “Today, there are several challenges before the farmers… Is there no solution to these challenges? These can be converted into opportunities if you (farmers) help me and states implement the various schemes properly,” Modi said.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Noting that the subject of agriculture is with states, he said “the states where some work has been done in the farming sector have witnessed progress. But in the states having the approach of ‘chalta hai’ (let it happen) and ‘election time pe dekh lenge’ (will see at the time of elections), the fate of the farmers has been left to the God. After God, there is nobody to help them.” Underlining the vision of doubling the income of farmers by 2022, the 75th independence of the country, Modi said, “From this land of Uttar Pradesh, I urge all the states to give priority to agriculture and then see the changes. The roadmap is there, you only have to implement it.” He said “there is no criticism” of any state and “there is no need for it” but he only wants to “urge” them with the promise that “the Centre is ready to work shoulder-to-shoulder” with them in the implementation of schemes.He said agriculture should be made employment-oriented to make it attractive to the new generation cultivators as he noted that agriculture, manufacturing and service sectors were the backbone of the country’s economy. Talking about problems being faced by farmers, the Prime Minister said “filling their pockets with money” will not suffice and the need is to strengthen their capabilities. Without make any political comment, Modi referred to the backward Bundelkhand region of Uttar Pradesh and said it was shameful that this belt was parched in spite of five rivers criss-crossing it. He cited the example of BJP-ruled Madhya Pradesh, saying under the leadership of Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, the state has emerged as “Number 1” in the agriculture sector for last three years consecutively even though it was nowhere among top 10 about a decade back.Bundelkhand has of late caught the attention of both opposition and ruling SP as it appeared to become an election issue before the 2017 Assembly polls.Talking about MNREGA rural job guarantee scheme, Modi, while clearly referring to the previous UPA government, said “what happened earlier? It was nowhere to be seen. Did you see it anywhere?”He said the scheme could be used to provide irrigation water by making the ponds deeper, cleaning canals, making new small wells through rainwater harvesting. “Some states have done it. I will urge more states to do it,” Modi said.The Prime Minister, who has been addressing farmers’ rallies in different states including Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, and Karnataka over the last few weeks, asked whether a pledge could be taken to double the income of farmers by 2022. “I am confident that my dream will come true. My dream is your dream. My dream is with your dream. What is my dream? My dream is that by 2022, when the country celebrates its 75th independence day, the income of farmers should double,” he said, adding “Can we do it? Can we take a pledge in this regard, the states, the farmers, we all?” He also spoke of the major problems faced by farmers especilly the vagaries of weather, besides fragmented land with poor yield to feed large families. “These challenges should be converted into opportunities,” he said.He advocated a three-pronged strategy under which one-third of the farming activity should be earmarked for traditional crops like paddy, sugarcane, pulses and oilseeds, one-third for poulty, fishery, bee-keeping and one-third for planting trees to get timber. If this strategy is adopted, farmers would not be left to fend for themselves even if the weather Gods got angry.Talking about irrigation facilities, he referred to the Atal scheme for inter-linking of rivers and said “If there is proper water management, half of the problems of farmers will be solved and they can live a peaceful life.” For economic development of the contry, there should be three pillars — agriculture, industry and service sector, Modi said. “If industries are not set up, where will sons of farmers get the job. With this we need to promote service sector like tourism, where employment can be generated,” he said.The Prime Minister dwelt at length on the Crop Insuance Scheme and highlighted its elements. The revamped crop insurance scheme is cheaper than the previous one launched in 1999 and modified in 2010. It ensures quick dispute settlements and provides for compensation payment direct into bank accounts. The new scheme works towards making it more attractive for the farmers. The farmers have now to pay just two per cent of the premium for kharif crop and 1.5 per cent for rabi while the same for horticulture will be fixed at 5 per cent. The balance premium is to be paid by the government both state and central.India derives about 17% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) from agriculture and considering the volatility in farm output due to vagaries of nature often resulting in lower production, the new crop insurance scheme approved by the government is expected to help small and marginal farmers in a big way.Modi regretted that for the sake of higher yield, massive doses of chemicals and harmful fertilisers were used. “This atrocity on ‘dharti mata’ should be avoided…we have no right to commit such an atrocity,” he advised the farmers.Stating that fertiliser shortage and blackmarketing has ended, Modi said earlier the PM Office used to get letters from CMs and most of them were for demanding fertiliser.”The Centre did not permit blackmarketing of urea. Now no CM writes to me for fertiliser,” he said. Modi said on Ambedkar Jayanti on April 14 he would launch national agriculture market “e-platform” for farmers enabling them to know market price of their produce through mobile phones.Earlier, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh told the gathering that the NDA government had raised the amount of compensation to farmers who suffered due to vagaries of nature. “We have simplified the procress of giving them central assistance,” he said.

Digital agriculture market platform to be launched on 14 April: PM Modi

Sehore: A digital platform for enabling farmers to sell their produce at a better rate anywhere in the country will be launched on 14 April, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced in Sehore on Thursday as he resolved to ensure doubling of the farmers’ income by 2022.

PM Narendra Modi. PTI

PM Narendra Modi. PTI

Modi, who unveiled guidelines for the recently-launched Prime Minister’s Crop Insurance Scheme at a rally in Sehore, said this was one of the various initiatives of his government aimed at ensuring the welfare of the farmers who have been in distress due to vagaries of weather.

Besides the Crop Insurance Scheme, he spoke about Soil Health Card scheme, PM’s Irrigation Scheme, Organic farming, ensuring adequate availability of urea and ethanol-blending programme to help the sugarcane farmers and also pitched for ‘Start-Up’ initiatives in agriculture sector.

He pushed for more and more use of modern technology and equipment along with traditional wisdom of farming to boost the agriculture sector, not only to meet the domestic needs but also cater to the demands from abroad.

“We want to integrate technology in the agriculture sector. There should be a mix of progressive farming and age-old wisdom,” the Prime Minister said.

Noting that the farmers do not get adequate price for his produce despite working hard as he has no choice but to sell in the nearby mandis, he said the government has decided to address this by adopting a digital mechanism.

“We are setting up a National Agriculture Market, a virtual and digital platform, in the coming days….On April 14, the birth anniversary of BR Ambedkar, we will launch the online platform,” Modi said at the rally which was attended by union ministers Sushma Swaraj, Radha Mohan Singh, Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan besides others.

He said this platform will enable the farmers, using a mobile phone, to sell their produce anywhere in the country, wherever they can get a better price.

At the rally, the Prime Minister said all states as well as agriculture community should take a pledge to double the farmers’ income by 2022, the 75th year of the country’s Independence. “We will do whatever is required achieve this.”

Under the e-agri platform, the government is working towards integrating all the 585 wholesale mandis of the country by 2018 in a phased manner, for which Rs 200 crore have been earmarked as of now.

In the first phase, 200 mandis will be integrated by this March-end while another 200 will be connected to the online platform in 2017 and the rest by 2018.

The Centre has received proposals from states like Karnataka, Gujarat, Telangana and Maharashtra for developing necessary infrastructure in wholesale markets. A strategic partner for implementing the national agri e-market has also been identified.

PTI

Kisan Kalyan Mela: PM Narendra Modi urges them to join crops insurance scheme

Asserting that his government’s first aim was to win the trust of the farmers, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday said his government wants to integrate technology in the agriculture sector for the farmers’ welfare.Prime Minister Modi, who was addressing a Kisan Kalyan Mela at Sehore, said the Madhya Pradesh Government under the leadership of Shivraj Singh Chouhan, did a lot of work for the farmers. “The government and farmers worked together to script history,” Prime Minister Modi said.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”This is not a small thing to win an award in agriculture for four years,” he added while highlighting the agriculture success under Chouhan’s leadership.Placing the guidelines of the crop insurance scheme in the presence of the farmers of Madhya Pradesh, Prime Minister Modi said this scheme has the solution to problems which the farmers face. “When Atalji was Prime Minister, first time such a scheme was thought about and an effort was made to change the lives of the farmers. But when the government of Atal ji changed, the scheme was modified and the farmer started running away from crop insurance scheme. Our first aim was to win the trust of the farmers,” said Prime Minister Modi.”This scheme has the solution to problems the farmers face. Farmers were not joining the crop insurance scheme. Even estimates about this scheme were made through a few villages only. We have decided to integrate technology in this scheme, do proper surveys and ensure 25 percent of amount is paid immediately…I urge you to trust this scheme and join the scheme, as the compensation to farmers has increased three fold,” he added.Prime Minister Modi said, “The age old wisdom and technology must meet. When we talk about technology and a digital India, we see the welfare of the farmers at the core. Our start up India movement is not restricted to IT. There is scope for this in agriculture sector also.””Per drop, more crop is what we are giving importance to. We initiated several measures for sugarcane farmers. Our dream is to increase the reach of the soil health card scheme,” he added.Prime Minister Modi said this scheme will come into effect from the upcoming Kharif season. “It envisages a uniform premium of two percent to be paid by farmers for Kharif crops, and 1.5 percent for Rabi crops. The premium for annual commercial and horticultural crops will be five percent,” Prime Minister Modi said.”There is no upper limit on the government’s subsidy for this scheme. The provision of capping the premium rate, which existed in earlier schemes, and resulted in low claims being paid to farmers, has been done away with. Farmers will get claims against the full sum insured, without any reduction,” he added.The Prime Minister also distributed soil health cards, and crop insurance settlement claims to select beneficiaries on the occasion.

Here is what BJP MP Gopal Shetty has to say about his ‘fashionable for farmers to commit suicide’ remark

After drawing flak for his remark that farmers? suicides have become a ‘fashion’, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP from Maharashtra Gopal Shetty on Thursday clarified his stand, saying there is a competition among the state governments to give compensation to the farmers who commit suicide.The BJP MP from North Mumbai said that he erroneously used the word ‘fashion’ instead of ‘competition’ earlier.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”I was saying that the previous governments haven’t paid attention to this. Farmers are facing problems because of this. Another thing which I said was that there is a competition among the state governments, but instead of competition I used the word fashion and that has become an issue,” he said.”I was saying that if one state gives Rs five lakh compensation to the farmers committing suicide, the second state will give Rs eight lakh and the third will give Rs nine lakh. This sort of competition shouldn’t be there. Giving money to the farmers is not a solution, there should be a long-term plan to solve this problem,” he added.According to reports, Shetty had earlier mocked the farmers suicides in the state, calling it a fashion trend. “Not all farmers’ suicides happen due to unemployment and starvation. A fashion is going on. A trend is on,” he told a leading TV channel.Congress leader Sanjay Nirupam had condemned Shetty’s remarks and said that it showed the BJP’s “insensitivity” towards the farmers.

Mann Ki Baat: Govt aims to bring 50% farmers under crop insurance scheme, says PM Modi

Asserting that natural calamity is the biggest disaster for the farmers, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday said that his government aimed at bringing 50 percent of the farmers under the ambit of the National Crop Insurance scheme. Addressing the nation in the 16th edition of his ‘Mann ki Baat’ programme, Prime Minister Modi said, “Let us integrate as many farmers as possible with the crop insurance scheme.”<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”The Indian Government has given a wonderful gift to the farmers in 2016, i.e. ‘Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana’. Can we pledge to bring 50 percent of the farmers to the scheme in the next two years?” he added.The Union Cabinet had earlier this month approved the ‘Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana’ for farmers’ welfare. As per this scheme, there will be a uniform premium of only two percent to be paid by farmers for all Kharif crops and 1.5 percent for all Rabi crops. In case of annual commercial and horticultural crops, the premium to be paid by farmers will be only five percent.The premium rates to be paid by the farmers are very low and balance premium will be paid by the government to provide full insured amount to the farmers against crop loss on account of natural calamities.The new Crop Insurance Scheme, which is in line with ‘One Nation, One Scheme’ theme, incorporates the best features of all previous schemes.

Consider increasing compensation to family of farmers who commit suicide: High Court to Maharashtra govt

The Bombay High Court on Thursday suggested to the State government to consider increasing compensation given to heirs of farmers who commit suicide. High court says increase compensation from Rs 1 lakh to Rs 5 lakh, keeping in mind the relevant increase in the cost of living over a period of time.A division bench of Justice Naresh Patil and Justice GS Kulkarni were informed by the state that last year, 1,000 farmers committed suicide and compensation to family members was released. Then the bench cited a 2006 order of the high court which had suggested the government to increase the compensation amount. The bench said, “Its been over 10 years since the passing of the order and still there is no reply from the state. While other neighbouring states have increased the compensation government of Maharashtra should also consider.”<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The bench also suggested to the government to promote collective farming among group of farmers so that they get a good price for their produce. Further it has told the government to seriously consider using labourers under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee scheme for agriculture purpose. At the movement the labour is used for building infrastructure purpose. The bench said, “There is always a shortfall for labourers to work on fields because of which farmers face problems if the state government pays for the labourers then the farmers can get their output and the labourers can also earn their living.”The bench also suggested that a nodal officer should be appointed at the district and state level to ensure interdepartmental coordination and to ensure that schemes introduced for the welfare of farmers is properly implemented.The suggestion was made during the hearing of a suo-moto PIL based on newspaper report highlighting that 32 farmers in Marathwada region committed suicide within a week in September, last year. The bench has now asked the state to respond to the suggestions made by next month.

Drought-hit farmers await funds from Karnataka Government

Farmers in Gulbarga, Karnataka, are falling into debt as drought conditions prevail in the region while they await funds from the government.Karnataka has been facing major dry spell for the last two years, leading to drought and crop loss. This has in turn burdened the farmers with debt as they struggle to make both ends meet.The farmers said the federal government had released 227 million USD to the state but the government of Karnataka – run by Siddaramaiah-led Congress party – is yet to distribute the compensation to the farmers.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A farmer, Sharanu Patil, said they are suffering due to the blame game between the state and federal government of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).”We are facing difficulties here as the state government of Congress party is saying the money has not been given while the federal government of BJP is saying that they have released the money but the government is not distributing. Due to this (blame game), we farmers are suffering,” said Patil.Patil also said some farmers have migrated to other states while others have sold their cattle for their livelihood.Meanwhile, Gulbarga’s District Collector Vipul Bansal said the local administration has received 29 million USD from the government and the first tranche will be released immediately.”Because the number of farmers will be in excess of 3,75,000, we have appointed nine banks to help us enable the RTGS (real time gross settlement) into the accounts of all the farmers,” said Bansal.For India’s nearly 200 million marginal farmers, many of whom borrow heavily to cultivate plots smaller than two acres, the fate of one crop can make the difference between life and death.The impact of unseasonal rains and two straight years of drought on agriculture that sustains over two-thirds of India’s 1.25 billion people have dented Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s popularity in the countryside, contributing to a humiliating loss for the premier in elections last year in the largely rural state of Bihar.

Would set up panel to re-look policy on farmers: Centre to SC

The Centre has told the Supreme Court that it would set up a panel of experts for re-examining the eight-year-old National Policy for Farmers (NPF), particularly in the wake of rising cases of farmer suicides. The Ministry of Agriculture said that it has proposed to set up an expert committee to initiate the process of re-examining the policy.”It is recognised that almost eight years have elapsed since the present policy NPF, 2007 was formulated. There are instances of farmers’ suicides being reported from various parts of the country.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”There is, thus, a need for an integrated approach and re-look at the present policy. For this purpose, the government intends to initiate action and set up a committee comprising experts and stakeholders to initiate the exercise,” the Ministry said in an affidavit filed before the court.The affidavit, filed by Kamal Arora, Under Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, said that nearly all action points emanating from NPF, 2007 have been implemented through various schemes and initiatives taken by the Centre and state governments.It also said that a plan of action was prepared by an Inter-Ministerial Committee set up by government for operationalisation of NPF, 2007, which identified 201 points.”It is submitted that the present government recognises the need for supporting the farmers and has taken a number of steps for increasing production, productivity, realise remunerative prices and risk mitigation,” it said while listing down the schemes initiated by the government.The ministry further said that in order to provide price support and de-risk farming, the government has enhanced Minimum Support Price for various crop based on the recommendations of the Commission on Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP).The affidavit was filed in response to a PIL seeking direction to the government to take steps to prevent farmer suicides across the country.The PIL by Punjab-based NGO Youth Kamal Organization, through its President G S Happy Mann, had stated that there is a high distress level in the agriculture sector.On October 30, the apex court had imposed a cost of Rs 25,000 on the Centre for failing to clear its stand on the issue of revisiting the policy.