Failure of crops to deepen trouble

The trouble for farmers started with the crop loan waiver scheme during the Kharif season last June

Hyderabad: Failure of kharif and rabi crops this year coupled with mounting debts and failure of the government’s crop loan waiver scheme in both the states have been cited as the prime reasons for large-scale suicides by farmers.

While drought conditions and power cuts damaged Kharif crops, the recent unseasonal rains damaged standing rabi crops on lakhs of hectares, dealing a double blow to farmers.

The trouble for farmers started with the crop loan waiver scheme during the Kharif season last June. After the TS government announced waiver of crop loans up to Rs 1 lakh to all farmers in Telangana, the banks stopped issuing fresh loans as there was no clarity on who would take the responsibility of the debt and how and when the TS government would repay the same.

It was October by the time clarity came that the TS government would clear the Rs 17,000 crore arrears owed by farmers and the first installment of Rs 4,250 crore was released. But by this time, farmers had approached private money lenders and secured loans on high interest rates and sowed the crops.

Meanwhile the monsoon failed, forcing farmers to rely on borewells. But due to severe shortage of power in TS last year, the government failed to provide even two hours of supply daily.

This led to large scale crop damage. With hardly any crops, farmers had no means to replay the loans, forcing many of them to commit suicide.

There have never been so many suicides in such a short span of time. However, the TS government has refuted reports of hundreds of farmers committing suicide and has instead accused Opposition parties of indulging in malicious campaigns to defame the government.

“We have waived off crop loans up to Rs 1 lakh for 36.27 lakh farmers, amounting to Rs 17,000 crore. The first installment of Rs 4,250 crore was released to banks in October last year and the second installment of the same amount will be released soon.

The government had issued loan waiver letters to banks on behalf of each and every member stating that the government takes the responsibility of clearing the arrears.

The banks had responded positively and issued fresh loans to 32.50 lakh farmers. Where does the question of farmers not getting loans arise?” asked Mr Pocharam Srinivas Reddy, the minister for agriculture.

He said that the TRS government had taken charge in June 2014 and the previous Congress government had shown only 15 suicides from January-June 2014.

"The same Congress leaders now claim over 600 deaths in these 10 months. How is that possible when the government waived off their loans and provided various subsidies, which had never been the case earlier?" Mr Reddy asked.

( Source : dc correspondent )
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