In a big counter attack in Parliament, the Congress on Thursday moved an adjournment motion in Lok Sabha to discuss farmer distress in the country, reported India Today news channel. Farmer suicides will now echo in Parliament and the Congress has sought countrywide farm loan waiver. To corner Modi government over farmer distress, Congress has roped in other Opposition parties.
Farmers from Tamil Nadu have been protesting in Delhi’s Jantar Mantar for the past 17 days and their demands include a drought relief package of Rs 40,000 crore and farm loan waiver. However, the Centre on Wednesday did not give any assurance on waiving of loans of farmers in drought-hit Tamil Nadu but said the coverage of crop insurance was being increased. Last year, the Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Modi had approved the ‘Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana’ for farmers welfare in line with One Nation – One Scheme theme.
— India Today (@IndiaToday) March 30, 2017
According to the scheme, “There will be a uniform premium of only 2% to be paid by farmers for all Kharif crops and 1.5% for all Rabi crops. In case of annual commercial and horticultural crops, the premium to be paid by farmers will be only 5%. The premium rates to be paid by farmers are very low and balance premium will be paid by the Government to provide full insured amount to the farmers against crop loss on account of natural calamities.”
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BJP in its Lok Kalyan Sankalp Patra (manifesto) had promised to waive loans of small and marginal farmers, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said in his election speeches that writing off the farmers’ loans would be among the foremost tasks of the party’s government. Following this and the BJP’s sweep in Uttar Pradesh elections, various states have asked the Centre for a similar loan waiver to farmers.
News agency Reuters quoting National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) reported that more than 12,600 farmers and agricultural labourers committed suicide in 2015 alone – making up almost 10 percent of all suicides in India. Almost 60 percent of the suicides were caused by bankruptcy and indebtedness or farming-related issues, said the NCRB, and almost three-quarters of victims were farmers cultivating land plots of less than two hectares (five acres).