CM’s Yavatmal visit riles vidarbha farmers
Prafulla Marpakwar I TNN
Mumbai: Debt-ridden farmers from Yavatmal district which has witnessed the largest number of farmers suicides in the recent past were s u r p r i s e d and overwhelmed when they were told that chief minister Vilasrao Deshmukh would be visiting them to review steps taken by his government to tackle the crisis. But their joy was shortlived when they found that Deshmukh was, in fact, visiting the district to attend the marriage of senior Congress leader Manikrao Thakre’s son and, after the celebrations, would review the prime minister’s package for Vidarbha region. The CM’s office confirmed that Deshmukh had attended the marriage on Saturday and also reviewed the present status of the PM’s package for the Vidarbha region. Farmers’ leader Kishore Tiwari slammed Deshmukh for playing with the sentiments of the farmers. “Every one knows Deshmukh has come for the marriage, then why this farce of review? It has send a wrong signal to the agricultural community,’’ Tiwari said. Tiwari, a self-styled champion of farmers, claimed that post prime minister Manmohan Singh’s visit, the Vilasrao Deshmukh government has not taken concrete steps to implement the Rs 3,750 crore PM’s package. “My information is that out of Rs 800 crore provided for interest waiver, only Rs 326 crore has been disbursed so far,’’ Tiwari claimed. On the number of suicides too, Tiwari said the state government was not revealing the facts. “We have asked the government to present a white paper on the agrarian crisis in the Vidarbha region,’’ he said. Meanwhile, Deshmukh, during his meeting with Manmohan Singh on Friday, submitted a comprehensive note on the present status of implementation of the PM’s package for Vidarbha. Deshmukh claimed that since the PM’s visit to the region, they had achieved nearly 40% of the target, particularly on implementing the schemes recommended by the PMO. While 6,000 farmers’ families were paid ex-gratia, loans worth Rs 1,407 crore of 9.33 lakh farmers were restructured as per the recommendations of financial institutions. In addition, 3.80 lakh farmers were issued kisan credit cards, more than 10 lakh farmers in the six districts had benefited following release of Rs 746 crore in 2005-06 and Rs 2,013 crore last year. On interest waiver, Deshmukh claimed that so far Rs 825 crore has been waived. On the irrigation facilities, Deshmukh submitted that in the next three years, Rs 2.177 crore would be utilised to irrigate 1.59 lakh hectares of land, out of which 54,000 hectares would be irrigated by June 2007.