New Delhi, Dec 5 : Cutting across party lines, lawmakers in the Lok Sabha on Thursday expressed their concerns about agrarian crisis and the present condition of farmers across the country, citing crop loss due to natural calamities, and suggesting Centre take effective measures to help them.
In over three-hour discussion over crop losses and the impact on farmers, Opposition members took up suicides by farmers and asked the government how it would achieve its target to double their income by 2022.
The treasury benches blamed previous governments led by Congress for the present condition of farmers.
Initiating the debate, Congress member from Kerala’s Mavelikkara, K. Suresh accused the government of not having “intention, desire, and concern” to address the farmers’ problems.
The MP said his notice for discussion ‘Agrarian crisis and farmers’ distress’ but the government did not accept his language.
“This anti-farmer attitude of the BJP government thus stands exposed as the Modi government is afraid of facing the truth of deeply disturbing agrarian crisis engulfing the country,” he said.
Suresh said the Congress viewed agriculture as vital to livelihood of people.
“More than two-thirds of the population in this country derives its livelihood from agriculture and farming. It is only natural to stand by them and the Congress has always supported the farmers, labourers, the deprived and the working class,” he said.
Suresh accused BJP-led governments of diluting powers of the Agriculture Ministry, saying it was an extension of “corporate and imperial interests”.
He said successive Congress governments have laid a strong base of agriculture in the country.
Calling farmers “more than god” and that “there is no life without farmers”, YSR Congress K. Raghu Rama Krishna Raju urged the Centre to do “justice” to the farmers and provide “insurance” support in case of crop failure.
Congress’s Dean Kuriakose asked how the government would achieve its target of doubling farmers’ income by 2022 in the prevailing situation.
Amar Singh of Congress suggested that the government should be adequately prepared for the climate change.
Shiv Sena’s Gajanan Kirtikar sought Rs 50,000-crore assistance from the Centre, mentioning that the condition of farmers in Maharashtra was very bad because of floods and other natural disasters.
“For farming, an amount of Rs 20,000 should be given to the farmers instead of Rs 8,000 per hectare. For gardening, the amount should be increased to Rs 30,000 per hectare in place of Rs 18,000,” Kirtikar said.
He also demanded exemption in tax on farming products, electricity meant for farmers and a relief in school fees of their children.
Sena leader Vinayak Raut said 34 of 36 districts in Maharashtra were affected by unseasonal rain. “A Central government team estimated the loss at Rs 10,000 crore, but an announcement for only Rs 900 crore was made.”
Dhramvir Singh of BJP said farmers’ total crops should be purchased by the government on the Minimum Support Price (MSP) and urged the Centre to declare MSP on onion, saying “if it happens, only Haryana can fulfill the needs of whole Delhi”.
BJP’s Nand Kumar Singh spoke about linking Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MNREGA) scheme to farming.
Anil Firojia of BJP said the Center has taken several steps for the welfare of farmers, including Rs 6,000 per year under PM-Kisan scheme, Rs 3,000 per month under Pradhan Mantri Kisan Maan-Dhan Yojana (PM-KMY) and PM Fasal Bima Yojana.
“An amount of Rs 10,000 was given to the Madhya Pradesh government by the Centre. All these steps were taken by the Modi government, not by the Congress government,” he said.