Saturday, June 16, 2007

Kalam hears woes of ryots' wives
Date:16/06/2007 URL: http://www।

Kalam hears woes of ryots' wives
Arunkumar Bhatt
Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti presents memorandum

if they had benefited from government packages
Memorandum seeks blanket ban on BT cottonseeds

— YAVATMAL: It was a poignant scene at the airport here on Friday।

A delegation of the wives of farmers who committed suicide in distress, met President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam on Friday.
The women wept while narrating their plight. A sympathetic Mr. Kalam enquired if they had benefited from the government packages. They replied in the negative.
Mr. Kalam delayed his departure to interact with the wives and activists of the Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti who have been working hard to salvage Vidarbha's sinking agrarian economy, particularly that of the cotton growers, who are committing suicide by hundreds every year.
Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh and his Cabinet colleagues were not present during the interaction, according to a spokesperson of the Samiti.
"Contrary to our fears, the President was well aware of the situation and questioned the women while reading the memorandum presented to him," Samiti leader Kishore Tiwari told The Hindu .
The President even chided officials who tried to hurry him up.
Mr. Kalam spent nearly 25 minutes with the women, who told him that their condition had further deteriorated and they were unemployed. They even blamed the BT Cotton for their plight. "We told him that the yield of the BT cotton was as low as 50 kg per acre and pointed out how claims about its usefulness were false," Mr. Tiwari said.
"I am disturbed"
He quoted Mr. Kalam as saying, "I am disturbed and will raise the matter with the officers concerned at the Centre and the State." Among other issues, the memorandum blamed "uncontrolled and unrestricted sale of spurious seeds" for the distress and sought a blanket ban on BT cottonseeds in the dry land farming areas. It also demanded a ban on misleading advertisements the BT cottonseeds.
The memorandum urged the President to invoke the constitutional provisions and seek an explanation from the Government on the hopeless situation of the farmers and direct it to provide food and healthcare to the families besides implementing the provisions of the Seeds Control Order, 1983, for immediate quality control of seeds input and stop the trials and sale of the BT cotton seeds in dry land.
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