The delay in payments for the Kharif season under Rythu Bandhu, the TRS government’s bi-annual scheme for farmers to provide farm investment incentives, is developing into a political controversy in the state, with the BJP and the Congress asking farmers to hit the streets. The payments were supposed to be made at the beginning of the month.
Telangana BJP president Bandi Sanjay Kumar has called on the farmers to join the BJP at its various district headquarters from Monday, while the state Congress committee urged the farmers to protest on June 28 if they do not receive the amount by then.
The ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS), however, has said the payments for some eligible beneficiaries have begun and accused the Opposition of creating an issue out of nothing.
“The process to credit the Rythu Bandhu amount, which is Rs 5,000 per acre per farmer, has already been set in motion. It will be done in phases,’’ Agriculture Minister S Niranjan Reddy said on Saturday, adding that there would be no delay.
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Kumar, however, was quick in pointing out that the state government started the process of depositing the money on June 22, the day he raised the issue in a letter to Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao, popularly known as KCR.
Earlier this week, the CM directed officials to deposit the amount to the farmers from June 28, a few hours after Kumar’s letter was released.
The BJP leaders have also accused the TRS government of withholding the remaining payments to force farmers not to sow paddy, as per the state government’s direction from last year, in the backdrop of a glut of paddy from the previous seasons remaining unsold.
The TRS government and the BJP-led Centre have previously locked horns over paddy procurement from Telangana, after the state had a bumper crop and the Centre declined to purchase the entire crop, leaving the farmers in a lurch. The KCR government took the protest to Delhi as well in April, alleging unfair and non-uniform procurement procedures of the Centre.
The Telangana Pradesh Congress Committee (TPCC) has also put its weight behind the farmers, with leader Mohammed Ali Shabbir saying that the Congress will “gherao” TRS leaders and stage protests at their residences if they fail to deposit the Rythu Bandhu amounts by June 28.
While addressing an event in the Kamareddy district on Saturday, Shabbir slammed the TRS, saying farmers have already started preparations for the Kharif season post-monsoon rainfall. He added that the delay was forcing farmers to take loans at high-interest rates from private moneylenders.
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He said KCR had “no time to hold a review meeting on the Rythu Bandhu payments”, as he was “spending his entire time launching a national party”.
Ali assured that the Congress would ensure the welfare of farmers by implementing the promises made in the Warangal Declaration on May 6 by Rahul Gandhi.
He said that the farmers would get Rs 2 lakh crop loan waiver in a single take, besides getting input assistance of Rs 15,000 per acre annually, if the Congress was voted to power in the next elections. He added that even tenant farmers would be eligible, along with landless farm labourers registered under the NREGA, who would get Rs 12,000 per annum according to the declaration.
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