Agitating farmers in Haryana have refused to withdraw their agitation despite the acceptance of several demands of farmers in Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh. Haryana farmers, who are sitting on dharna in many parts of the state, have decided to block national highways and state highways for three hours on June 16. On the other hand, keeping in view the increasing protests by farmers, the Haryana government has initiated the process of collecting details about the outstanding farm loans particularly given by its cooperative banks and societies to the farmers.
A government official told The Indian Express on Monday that there is a defaulting loan of Rs 6,575 crore, which the farmers could not deposit with the cooperative banks and societies on time. “Keeping in view the past practice of waiving such farm loans, the government may consider to waive off this much amount,” said the officer, adding that no decision has been taken on the issue yet. “As of now, only details are being collected,” added the officer.
However, the amount of total farm loan disbursed by both cooperative and commercial banks is much higher. As on March 31, 2015, the total outstanding crop loan in Haryana was pegged at Rs 28,558 crore with more than 22 lakh Kisan Credit Cards (KCC).
Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) Haryana unit president Gurnam Singh Chaduni said, “From the media reports, we have heard about farm loans of Rs 56,000 crore pending against the Haryana farmers.”
Chaduni said the issue of farm loans is related to the farmers of all states, not only Maharashtra. “In the absence of good prices of crops, farmers’ lives have become miserable. The problems of farmers can be addressed only by two ways. First, waive off their existing farm loans and second, offer them profitable rates of their crops to increase their income,” added Chaduni, who have led many agitations of farmers in the state.
“To help farmers ensure their survival, the government should implement recommendations of the Swaminathan Commission to ensure 50 per cent profit in the peasants’ input cost to their crops,” said Chaduni.
On BKU’s call, the dharnas are being staged at eight district headquarters currently. Similar, dharnas will begin in Sonepat from Tuesday. The farmers also protested in Panchkula on Monday. Haryana BJP spokesperson Jawahar Yadav said their government was serious about tackling farmers’ issues.
“We have already reduced the rates of urea fertiliser apart from implementing a crop insurance scheme for farmers. As many as 15.73 lakh soil health cards have so far been prepared to prevent unnecessary use of fertilisers. We have already initiated the process to implement many of the recommendations of the Swaminathan Commission,” said Yadav.
State Agriculture Secretary Abhilaksh Likhi said the state government has adopted a multi-pronged strategy and accelerated its targets for different sectors to double farmers’ incomes by 2022, which requires an annual growth of 10.41 per cent in the income of farmers. Likhi said the government was aiming to ensure increase in agricultural and allied sector productivity through crop diversity and peri-urban farming.
“Among the high value crops (HVC), annual growth of 14.1 per cent in cotton, two per cent in sugarcane, 4.2 per cent in fruits, 5.7 per cent in vegetables, 3.5 per cent in animal husbandry and 12 per cent in fisheries has been envisaged by 2022. A target has been set to increase the productivity of fibre crop cotton from 0.274 metric tonnes per hectare to 0.693 metric tonnes per hectare and of sugarcane from 75.18 metric tonnes per hectare to 86.30 metric tonnes per hectare,” he added.
Hooda to hold MLAs’ meet today
Groupism in the Congress was visible on the issue of farmers’ agitation, too. Former Haryana CM Bhupinder Singh Hooda will hold a meeting with present and past MLAs of the party in New Delhi on Tuesday to launch an agitation on the farmers’ issue.
However, Haryana Pradesh Congress Committee president Ashok Tanwar said Monday he would not attend Hooda’s Delhi meeting as “he had no information about the same”. Tanwar said the party would launch a week-long agitation from June 18 on the issues of farmers and law and order. AICC communications wing in-charge and Kaithal MLA Randeep Singh Surjewala will stage a dharna in Kaithal on June 15.