Congress govt gets cracking in Chhattisgarh: Short-term farm loans waived, SIT to probe Naxal attack in Jhiram valley

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Updated: December 18, 2018 12:57:10 PM

Soon after taking oath, Baghel Monday evening chaired his maiden cabinet meeting at the new secretariat office in Atal Nagar (Naya Raipur) where the decisions were taken.

Baghel said within hours of his government’s formation, these two promises were implemented.

Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel has said his government will waive short-term agricultural loans of farmers and hike the MSP for paddy to Rs 2,500 per quintal, fulfilling promises made by the Congress ahead of the state Assembly polls. The state government will also set up a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to probe the “biggest Naxal attack in the country on political leaders” in Jhiram valley, he said. Soon after taking oath, Baghel Monday evening chaired his maiden cabinet meeting at the new secretariat office in Atal Nagar (Naya Raipur) where the decisions were taken.

The short-term crop loans to the tune of overRs 6,100 crore of more than 16.65 lakh farmers drawn from cooperative banks and Chhattisgarh Gramin Bank as on November 30, 2018, will be completely waived, Baghel told mediapersons at a press conference held late Monday evening at Samvad Bhawan. He was accompanied by his two newly-inducted ministers – T S Singh Deo and Tamradhawaj Sahu – and Chief Secretary Ajay Singh.

The cabinet also decided to examine the short-term agriculture loans taken by farmers from notified commercial banks and accordingly, the loans of eligible farmers will be waived, the chief minister said. The step of loan waiver would help in the uplift and economic and social empowerment of farmers, he said.

Congress president Rahul Gandhi had promised that if elected, the party government in the state would waive loans of farmers and hike the Minimum Support Price (MSP) of paddy. Baghel said within hours of his government’s formation, these two promises were implemented. On the MSP for paddy, he said it is being procured through primary cooperative societies at Rs 1,750 per quintal, a rate fixed by the central government. The remaining Rs 750 per quintal will be borne by the state government, he said.

If the amount of Rs 300 per quintal, which is currently being given as a bonus, is merged with it (Rs 750), only a burden of Rs 450 per quintal remains, he said. “Therefore, the state government would bear the burden of Rs 750 per quintal and procure paddy at Rs 2,500 per quintal,” he said.

He also said that a SIT will be formed to probe the Naxal attack on May 25, 2013 in Bastar district’s Jhiram valley in which 29 people, including senior Congress leaders, were killed.

After the incident, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) had conducted a probe and submitted its report to court. But it did not cover the conspiracy angle into the incident, which had wiped out the state Congress leadership, he said.

Asked about his government’s strategy to tackle Naxalism, Baghel said the government will hold talks with people and tribals who were most affected by it and then formulate a policy to deal with it.

“The previous government had tried to solve the problem through guns, which is not a proper way,” he said. “This is a socio-economic-political problem and should be dealt with accordingly. We would have to first talk to these people and take them into confidence and accordingly, draw a policy to tackle the menace,” he said.

To a query on Congress’ poll promise of complete liquor ban, Baghel said he is committed towards it but first he has to take the opinion of people from different communities and study the similar step taken by other states.

“The state also has scheduled areas where gram sabhas have to take decisions. We have to talk to various people and then study the bans imposed on liquor in other states following which the decision will be taken,” he added. The chief minister also said that issues raised by the media will be addressed effectively by his government.

He said corruption and irregularities will not be tolerated at any cost in the state, and asked government officials and employees to discharge their duties towards people with honesty.

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