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Farmers” suicides prompts Cabinet into announcing over 16,000 crore rehabilitation package

Posted by Ramoo on October 9, 2008

October 8th, 2008 – 10:36 pm ICT by ANI –

New Delhi, Oct.8 (ANI): The Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved a rehabilitation package for 31 identified districts in the State of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala and Maharashtra involving total amount of Rs.16978.69 crores, consisting of Rs.10579.43 crores as subsidy/grants and Rs.6399.26 crores as loan.
Finance Minister P.Chidambaram told reporters after the cabinet meeting that the rehabilitation package aims at establishing a sustainable and viable farming and livelihood support system through debt relief to farmers, complete institutional credit coverage, crop-centric approach to agriculture, assured irrigation facilities, effective watershed management, better extension and farming support services and subsidiary income opportunities through horticulture, livestock, dairying, fisheries and other subsidiary activities.
For alleviating the hardship faced by the debt stressed families of farmers, ex-gratia assistance from Prime Ministers National relief Fund @ Rs.50.00 lakh per district has also been provided. The package covers the following :
a) Complete credit cover through institutional credit sources;
b) Debt relief to farmers by restructuring overdue loans and interest waiver;
c) Provision of assured irrigation facilities; d) Watershed management;
e) Seed replacement programme:
f) Diversification of activities into horticulture, livestock, dairying and fisheries etc. for generation of additional employment and income opportunities; and
g) Extension support services.
Feedback received from State Governments and other implementing agencies indicates that implementation of the rehabilitation package has resulted in substantial improvement in the ground level conditions and mitigation of farmers distress. However, they have suggested some amendments to the existing interventions for giving a sharper edge and increase the pace of implementation of the interventions brought about through the rehabilitation package.

The suggestions were examined and the Union Cabinet today gave its approval to the following modifications in the rehabilitation package:
(i) Extension of the period for implementation of the non-credit component of the package by two more years i.e. up to 30th September 2011.
(ii) In-principle approval for provision of need based additional financial support to the concerned Ministries/Departments of the Government of India for implementation of the programmes/ interventions included in the package.
(iii) Increase in per farmer area limit under Seed Replacement Programme from 1 ha. To 2 ha.
(iv) Adoption of Cafeteria Approach for participatory Watershed Development Programmes, where State Governments with prior permission of the Ministry of Agriculture have the flexibility to adopt either the models circulated by NABARD or Sujala Model of Watershed Development Programme being implemented in Karnataka under Word Bank assistance or the models in accordance with the common guidelines for Watershed Development Projects approved by NRAA subject to the condition that financial assistance will be as per the approved norms of Watershed Development Fund (WDF).
(v) Inclusion of Women Farmers Empowerment Programme under extension services.
(vi) Construction of an Empowered Committee headed by Secretary, Department of Animal Husbandry, Dairying & Fisheries and consisting of representatives from Department of Agriculture & Cooperation, Planning Commission and Ministry of Finance as members for taking decision regarding medication or inclusion of new components under subsidiary income activities subject to the total financial implication remaining within the existing approved outlay for the concerned State.
The improvements in the package would give it a sharper edge and further improve the effectiveness. (ANI)

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Govt modifies rehab package for suicide-prone districts

Posted by Ramoo on October 9, 2008


BS Reporter / New Delhi October 09, 2008, 1:25 IST

The government today modified the rehabilitation package for the farmers in suicide prone districts of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala and Maharashtra.

The government had earlier announced a rehabilitation package on September 29, 2006 for 31 identified districts in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala and Maharashtra, involving a total amount of Rs 16,978 crore.

After the feedback from implementing agencies, the Union Cabinet today decided to extend the period for implementation of the non-credit component of the package by two more years or up to September 30, 2011.

It has also given in-principle approval for provision of need-based additional financial support to the concerned ministries and departments of the Government of India for implementation of the programmes.

The rehabilitation package aims at establishing a sustainable and viable farming and livelihood support system through debt relief to farmers, complete institutional credit coverage, crop-centric approach to agriculture and assured irrigation facilities.

Other modifications in the scheme include increase in per farmer area limit under the Seed Replacement Programme from 1 hectare to 2 hectares, adoption of ‘Cafeteria Approach’ for participatory Watershed Development Programmes, and inclusion of ‘Women Farmers’ Empowerment Programme’ under extension services.

The Union Cabinet today also approved new legislation that seeks to set up a National Judicial Council (NJC) to conduct inquiries into allegations of incapacity or misbehaviour by judges of the High Court and Supreme Court. “The provisions of the new Bill would bring in transparency in the functioning of the judiciary and would also enhance its prestige,’’ an official handout said.

The proposed Bill would incorporate recommendations of the parliamentary standing committee that had looked into an earlier Bill — Judges (Inquiry) Bill, 2006.

Posted in Andhra Pradesh, Announcements, Credit, Farmers Suicides, Kerala, Maharashtra, Prime Minister Relief Package | Leave a Comment »

CM orders probe into Vidarbha scam

Posted by Ramoo on September 14, 2008

14 Sep 2008, 0302 hrs IST, Prafulla Marpakwar,TNN

MUMBAI: Embarrassed by the facts revealed by the RTI query, chief minister Vilasrao Deshmukh on Saturday ordered a high-level inquiry into the multi-crore scam in the PM’s and CM’s relief package meant to help poor and bereaved families of farmers who committed suicide in the Vidarbha region.
Gopal Reddy, the director of the V P Naik Mission for Farmers, will be in charge of the probe. “Deshmukh has asked for a comprehensive information on the beneficiaries of the special package for the entire Vidarbha region. Once we get the details, we will decide on the course of action to be taken against those who have wrongfully helped themselves to the relief measures,” a top official told TOI.
Yavatmal-based activist Vilas Wankhede on Friday alleged that while selecting beneficiaries for the package, there was blatant violation of rules, as a result of which, cattle was distributed among non-eligible, well-off people, including prominent politicians from the district, home town of the new MPCC president, Manikrao Thakre.
A month ago, when Wankhede had submitted an application under the RTI Act, he was told that relatives of former MP Uttamrao Patil, former minister Shivajirao Moghe, Digras legislator Sanjay Deshmukh and cattle supplier Amol Kshirsagar were provided with cows though they were not eligible for it.
According to the state government and PMO rule, only families of farmers who had killed themselves and BPL residents of the region are eligible for assistance under the multi-crore relief package. A preliminary probe revealed that the cattle was distributed during the tenure of Harshadeep Kamble, who was then the collector of Yavatmal.
According to the guidelines, the beneficiaries are selected by a four-member committee, which is headed by the collector. All applications for assistance under the relief package are presented before the panel by tehsildars or revenue officials and after scrutiny, the committee selects the beneficiaries. “From the RTI data, it appears that the committee did not verify the credentials of the applicants,” the official said.
“Prima facie, it appears that there was lack of seriousness among the babus posted in the Vidarbha region. As a result, despite adequate budgetary provision and special economic packages, the results were not visible,” a senior Congress minister from Vidarbha said.
He added that the bureaucrats had successfully failed all efforts made by the chief minister to tackle the agrarian crisis.
“No officer wants to complete his tenure in any of the Vidarbha districts. Unfortunately, Deshmukh had taken a very lenient view of the casual approach of the bureaucrats. Now we will have to take stern action against the erring officials or else we will have to pay a heavy price during the coming elections,” the minister said.

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Aid for farmers of Vidarbha milked by netas

Posted by Ramoo on September 13, 2008

13 Sep 2008, 0103 hrs IST,TNN

NAGPUR: In a bitter twist to the Vidarbha farmers’ tragedy, a simple RTI query has revealed a huge scam in cash and kind in the CM’s and PM’s special relief packages.
A six-time former MP and relatives of a sitting MLA and several former MLAs are among the ‘well-off’ people who have helped themselves to the relief measures meant for poor, bereaved families in Yavatmal district, the epicentre of the farmers’ suicides.
The revelations point to large-scale corruption and irregularities in implementation of the schemes. Social activist and journalist Vilas Wankhede, who made the RTI query, alleged that undeserving beneficiaries had abused the scheme in which 50% of the cost of purchase of a cow or a buffalo is subsidised by the government.
The scheme was meant to help the near and dear ones of those indebted farmers who were the sole breadwinners of their families and who had ended their lives, or other BPL families living along the state dairy’s milk procurement route. Its purpose was to enable the distressed families to supplement their income as farming had become uneconomical in this mainly unirrigated cotton-growing region.
After Wankhede applied under RTI Act, the deputy commissioner of Yavatmal’s animal husbandry department provided the list of beneficiaries. While former Congress MP Uttamrao Patil and his family members got ten cows under the subsidy scheme, sitting MLA of Digras Sanjay Deshmukh’s wife and mother got a cow each, ex-minister and former guardian minister of Nagpur district Shivajirao Moghe’s near relations got eight cows. Wani ex-MLA Wamanrao Kasawar’s four relatives got eight cows, while Congress leader Suresh Lonkar’s relatives bagged six.
More surprisingly, the contractor who supplied the cows, Amol Kshirsagar, was himself a beneficiary and got subsidy for two cows. All the leaders belong to the Congress, the NCP or other parties in the ruling alliance.

State BJP president Nitin Gadkari, who introduced Wankhede at a crowded press conference here on Friday, said the RTI data only related to one district. “This is the tip of a scam iceberg, since the packages were to be implemented in six suicide-affected districts of Vidarbha,” he said. Demanding a CBI probe into the relief packages, Gadkari also sought the PM’s intervention. “If the government fails to order a CBI enquiry, we will file a public interest litigation,” he added.
“What is disturbing in the whole affair is that needy and deserving people were left out and well-heeled politicians mainly from the Congress and the NCP misused the scheme,” said Gadkari.
More shockingly, Wankhede pointed out that despite distributing thousands of milch cows, each costing around Rs 14,000, the milk collection in the district actually showed a decline. The collection figure on June 1, 2006 was 6,521 litres, but on the last day of that month, it was 5,359 litres. The beneficiaries also took advantage of funds provided for fodder and many availed of insurance by claiming that the animal had died!
Gadkari said that the Narendra Jadhav committee report on implementation of relief schemes in Vidarbha had also mentioned widespread corruption and supply of relief material at inflated costs.

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