MANGALURU: Loan waiver scheme announced by JD(S)-Congress coalition government was an immediate mitigating measure to counter farmers’ suicides in Karnataka. The government at the same time is committed to rolling out long term measures to improve lot of ryots in the state and ensure they do not end lives due to agrarian crisis. This justifies the Rs 39000 crore-odd tab that the government is picking up, noted G Parameshwara, Karnataka home minister.
Averring that numbers of farmers ending lives was not just one or two, which in itself is not justified but in 1000s, Parameshwara said the government had no choice but to respond to the crisis. “If we hadn’t responded (to the crisis), what message it would have sent (across),” Parameshwara, also deputy CM (DyCM) countered on Friday. Former CM had started the process by waiving off farm loans obtained from cooperative banks, he said.

Noting that Prime Minister could have lessened burden of Karnataka if he so desired by agreeing to waive of Rs 30,000 crore-odd of farm loans provided by nationalised banks, Parameshwara said, “He (Modi) is not interested in permanent solution to bail out the farmers in crisis. The centre does not need this (farmer’s welfare) at all.” The state had to step in to meet an assurance given to farmers in view of Centre’s stand, he said.

Asserting that the whole loan waiver will be rolled out in phases over next three to five years and not in one-year, Parameshwara said long term measures planned include increased thrust on drip irrigation, setting up chain of cold storages and provide assistance to purchase farm implements in addition to ensuring that spending on major irrigation projects as outlaid in the budget is met and spent in a time bound manner to help the farmers.

Allaying fears that nationalised banks had not been taken in to confidence about the state government’s ambitious loan waiver scheme, Parameshwara said, “We would not have done so without their approval at all.” The step to waive loans obtained through cooperative banks is the first step and modalities of waiving loans obtained by farmers through nationalised banks will be worked out and rolled out at the earliest, Parameshwara added.
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