State will spare no efforts to help farmers, says Patil
In a massive propaganda drive to claim credit for the 60000 crore loan waiver, NCP which is the alliance partner in the state said that the government was ready to share any additional burden, if so directed by the Centre, to provide further succour to distressed farmers in Vidarbha region. Addressing a mammoth farmers' rally, organised by the NCP here, Deputy Chief Minister R R Patil on Wednesday said the state government would 'fulfil any responsibility' that the Centre gave it while increasing the relief to farmers. Describing as 'historic' the decision to waive loans of farmers holding up to five acres of land, Patil said the state had requested the union government to initiate measures that would benefit more farmers. The state government would seriously consider granting loan waiver to small artisans like cobblers, ironsmiths and carpenters, living in villages, who also had a debt burden but had not benefited from the waiver for farmers, he said. The Deputy Chief Minister, who also holds the Home portfolio, said he had given 15 days for all private money lenders to return all goods and land pledged by hapless cultivators to them to get loans. The police would take strict action against such money lenders afterwards if they did not comply with the instructions, he said. Admitting that the milch cattle given to farmers under the relief packages had become a 'burden' for the beneficiaries since they did not know where to sell the milk, Patil said it was necessary to train these farmers to help them market the output and earn a profit thereon. Patil said government would increase the grant under the Sanjay Gandhi Niradhar Yojana and extend concessions to women's self-help groups (SHG's) to provide succour to the downtrodden Nearly four crore farmers in Maharashtra would benefit from the loan waiver announced by the Centre, Patil said. Saying that the pains of cultivators in Western Maharashtra and in Vidarbha were different, he said farmers in Vidarbha had to battle an unfavourable nature on top of the debt burden. Patil assured that the state government would provide all the funds necessary to ensure that the ambitious Gosikhurd project, which is expected to irrigate 1.90 lakh hectares of land in Nagpur, Bhandara and Chandrapur districts, was completed in the next 4 years. Addressing the gathering, Minister for Water Resources Ajit Pawar said his department had asked the Finance Department to allocate more than Rs 3,000 crore in the forthcoming state budget for completion of various irrigation schemes in Vidarbha, including medium and large projects, canals and lift irrigation projects. Union Minister of State for Civil Aviation Praful Patel said a request had been made to the Prime Minister to initiate measures to provide succour to more farmers. ''We are happy, but not satisfied with the loan waiver. We should not stop here,'' he said. The government must take steps to help farmers holding more than five acres of land, he said. The Government of Maharashtra must also help in this direction, he added. Earlier, Maharashtra Minister for Public Works Anil Deshmukh said the rally was being held to express thanks to Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh, Union Minister for Finance P Chidambaram and Minister for Agriculture Sharad Pawar for the historic decision of loan waiver for farmers.