Vidarbha farmers to start 'Hallabol' stir against NABARD for fresh crop loan
Posted June 17th, 2007 by Tarique
By Pervez Bari, TwoCircles.net
Bhopal, June 17: Thousands of farmers of west Vidarbha region in Maharashtra will start "Hallabol" agitation at all NABARD controlled banks demanding fresh crop loan to every defaulter farmers from tomorrow.
The Nagpur-based Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti, (VJAS), president Kishor Tiwari, who is spearheading the cause of the widows of farmers of Vidarbha region who have committed suicides in the last four years, said this in Press release today.
The reported decision of NABARD that "the decline in credit allocation targets is surprising in the context of Centre's directives to banks to double flow of credit to the agriculture sector in three years starting 2004-05," Tiwari informed. Vidarbha farmers will strongly protest and will not only restore credit outlay to Rs. 3, 300 crore but will have loan waiver too, he added.
Tiwari said it is complete injustice that while cotton farmers are committing suicides in west Vidarbha, the most of the growth in priority sector lending has gone to districts in western Maharashtra and Marathwada. This is largely due to Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar whose base regions have been obliged more as compared to Vidarbha. For instance, Pune gets a 91 per cent rise in its credit allocation target.
NABARD is acting against the agriculture sector plan for six districts of Vidarbha. The plan was prepared based on the last three years' trend though an upward revision of Rs 1,275 crore was made specially under the PM's relief package during 2006-07.
"The PM's package, among other factors, rightly appreciated lack of an extensive network of formal credit in Vidarbha as one of the root causes of farmers' suicides, Tiwari pointed out.
Cutting down on credit allocations for this reason amounts to punishing Vidarbha for being chosen for the PM's package, now cotton farmers are left at the mercy of private money lenders inviting more farmers to commit suicides.
The Press release said that when Indian Finance Minister submitted his annual budget for the year 2007-08, it was warmly welcomed as "agriculture budget". But in result as per order of NABARD bankers association has taken the decision to suddenly drop down the credit outlay for Vidarbha cotton farmers.
After aggressive lending in the previous fiscal, the credit allocation targets set under the annual credit plan for 2007-08 for six districts of Vidarbha show a steep decline. Incidentally, these are the districts that have been reporting maximum farmers' suicides and where farmers' dependence on illegal money-lenders has been one of the root causes.
Credit lending targets for six districts have been revised downwards compared to last year, as per recent decision of bankers association. In 2005-06 fiscal, banks disbursed credit of Rs. 765 crore in six districts. But thanks to the PM's package, the crop credit shot up to Rs. 2,033 crore in the last fiscal.
The current plan, however, allocates only Rs. 1,683 crore for crop credit For instance, Yavatmal district, which has reported maximum suicides, has been earmarked a target of only Rs. 434.96 crore which is almost a 30 per cent decline from its 2006-07 target. Washim district shows a decline of 41 per cent, Akola 36 per cent and Buldhana 38 per cent, against the previous fiscal targets. District credit plans have been finalised on the basis of broad guidelines prepared by NABARD.
Now, the time has come for separating Vidarbha region from Maharashtra state due complete contrast in fiscal condition and increasing backlog of region.
"We will press this demand in future too if we are being neglected and forced to kill ourselves, Tiwari declared. (firstname.lastname@example.org)