Thursday, March 22, 2007

How many deaths will it take till the state government knows?

How many deaths will it take till the state government knows?
Smita Deshmukh
Tuesday, March 20, 2007 23:59 IST

It was a relief package meant for the debt-ridden farmers of Vidarbha, but co-operative banks seem to have reaped the most from it.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh announced a Rs 3,750 crore package to bring the farmers back from the brink. But out of it, Rs 810 crore has been earmarked as interest waiver to co-operative banks, Rs 2,410 crore for kickstarting irrigation projects, and the remaining Rs 530 crore for relief packages and projects, such as quality seed replacement for the farmers.

Frustrated with the gross anomaly in the disbursement of relief money, farm activist Kishor Tiwari is planning to move the court.

Rubbishing the state officials claim that the funds have reached many farmers, BJP leader Nitin Gadkari, who himself is from Vidarbha, told DNA, "It is a total eyewash. The biggest beneficiaries have been the co-operative banks in Yavatmal and Buldhana districts. They have overcome their financial crisis." The woeful saga continues in 2007, which has seen 219 farmers committing suicide - 70 in January, 88 in February and 61 this month.

Often ridiculed by the state government as "suicide" spokesperson, Kishor Tiwari of Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti expressed anguish over 11 cotton farmers coomitting suicide on Gudi Padwa.

"What is the point of giving seeds to farmers when they have nothing to eat, or giving them cows when they have no money to buy feed," he asked. Tiwari e-mails the latest data all officials under the email ID

"I wonder how many more deaths will it take to wake up this government," he rued.

Slamming the co-operative bank chiefs, Ramdas Kadam, leader of Opposition in the state assembly, said, "These banks have slapped higher rate of interest on farmers to swindle money. The PM's package is ill-conceived and will never reach the Vidarbha farmers. Instead, it will make corrupt Congress and NCP politicians very rich."

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