Even as jobless diamond workers across Gujarat continue to demand a comprehensive relief and rehabilitation package,the Modi Government on Friday announced a relief of a measly one per cent in interest on short-term farm loan to farmers, also associated with diamond polishing/cutting jobs,taken from co-operative banks.
We all know that the current global economic meltdown has adversely hit the diamond industry and the livelihood of diamond workers in the state. More or less,the diamond workers are associated with agricultural activity also,and are forced to return to their native places to survive (on a small piece of farm land they own there). Hence,the government has decided to provide farm loan to these diamond workers at six per cent interest through the district co-operative banks, state Agriculture Minister Dilip Sanghani announced in the House on Friday.
Describing the sop doled out to jobless diamond workers as a cruel joke being played by the government,Leader of the Opposition Shaktisinh Gohil of the Congress said that instead of announcing a long-awaited comprehensive relief package for these workers,the government is doing only this much for them.
Gohil said most of the jobless diamond workers have no farm land,and those who posses it are either small or marginal farmers; the others are landless labourers. He said the measure announced by the minister would only help the diamond unit owners who are also the big farmers. If the government can provide a soft loan of Rs 9,570 crore at a meagre 0.1 per cent to the Tatas for the Nano project,it should provide a similar package for the jobless diamond workers to help them set up small units, he said.
The state agriculture minister also announced in the House the relief of two per cent in interest on short-duration farm loans to the small and marginal farmers,taken from the co-operative banks.