Thursday, February 15, 2007



Over 200 hundred probable small land holder and farm labourer beneficiaries of the Prime Minister's Vidarbha Special Package have filed their separate affidavits before the Executive Magistrate to expose the rampant corruption and red tapism prevailing in the agriculture department of Yavatmal.
The PTI have received the copies of the affidavits made by the farmers of Darwha and Digras tehsils of the district and on perusal it was found that the State Govt has allotted Rs. 25000/- each from the PM's Vidarbha Special Package for distributing to the small land holders and farm labourers who are trapped in an unprecedented financial crisis in the recent past. However, the Agriculture officers of the respective tehsils have allegedly demanded Rs. 2000/- each from the beneficiaries for a favour of including their names in the beneficiaries' list. In the affidavits, all the aggrieved farmers have affirmed on oath that the Agriculture Officers had demanded the bribe and those who agreed to grease their itching palms were included in the list while others, though eligible for the financial assistance, were left out from the ambit of the package on lame excuses.
It may be noted here that the agrarian crisis faced by the Vidarbha farmers are adopted a hair splitting attitude of killing themselves to escape from the financial crisis and the global attention is being drawn to this harrowing incidents of farmers killing themselves in a huge number in a predominantly agriculture country like India. The Union Govt and the State Govt had on a number of previous occasions appointed study committees and assessment panels of experts. The facts finding committees and their surveys have ascertained that the farmers in Vidarbha were forced to commit suicide due to the prevailing agrarian crisis and the distress they are compelled to undergo.
The Prime Minister had undertaken a whirlwind tour in the region to have an on the spot study of the grave situation and after visiting some of the remote villages in the region, Dr. Manmohan Singh had declared a special package for the farmers of Vidarbha and the huge fund has been allotted to the State Govt and in turn, the state Govt has channelised the fund to the district administration to distribute to the beneficiaries in the real spirit and letters of the PM's announcement.
However, the power drunk white collar babus have invented their on methods to deprive the poor farmers of the benefits of the package. Some of them have allegedly threatened the poor farmers of dire consequences if they failed to concede their demand for tips (bribe).
As a matter of fact, the farmers need bullocks, water pumps, regular electricity, good quality seeds and fertilizers to sustain themselves on the farm front. Ironically, the Agriculture Officers are compelling the beneficiaries to buy compost fertilizers (gandul khat), ploughs, ghemelas, iron vessels etc. which, according to the farmers, are already possessed by them.
They have told that these implements are already with them. They need cash for meeting their actual farm needs.
As a matter of fact, these implements have been priced at a very high rate and obtained in bulk quantity from a select band of manufacturers on special confessional rate and commission. The amount so accrued would be pocketed by the officers in a planned manner. The nexus between the suppliers and the officers is a guarded secret but it has become an open secret at present as the market price of an oil pump, for instance, is Rs. 12,000/- while it was given to the beneficiaries at the cost of Rs. 17500/- each.
Pradip Chavan of village Haru in Darwha Tehsil said that the Agriculture Officers are extorting money from the poor and illiterate beneficiaries and alleged that those officers had even taken the thumb impression of the beneficiaries on plain papers.
Sudhakar Lala Cavan of village Dadpapur of Ghatanji tehsil has told PTI that he has so far spent Rs. 2000/- on bus tickets alone for getting his aid amount from the Agriculture Officer of Ghatanji who often prefer to drive him off on one or the other reasons.
"We have been forced to buy pesticides, ploughs, ghemelas and iron pots against the package share despite the fact that it was the season of harvest," Mohan Jadhao of Ghatanji alleged. The 200 farmer beneficiaries have, in their separate affidavits, demanded a probe into the corruption and red tape in allotting the fund from the PM's package and punish the guilty for their greed and reckless and wayward ways of functioning. ==============================================================================

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