Hyderabad: Launching a scathing attack on the NDA government at the Centre, Nizamabad MP K Kavitha on Thursday said the farming community across the country had pinned hopes on the budget to rescue them from distress but it had turned out to be a damp squib.
Demanding that the Centre address the issues of the peasant community with all sincerity, the TRS leader, speaking on the allocations to the farm sector in the Lok Sabha, said the budget was one big disappointment for farmers in the country.
Seeking the attention of Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in the House, she said this is effectively the last budget for this government. “There is nothing in it for the Kisan. The government has been promising steps to double the income of farmers, and this has been your focus area right from the first budget,” she said.
She pointed out that there was neither a policy to translate this into reality nor any supporting budgetary allocation all these years. “The government had put in efforts to successfully bring in reforms for ‘Ease of Doing Business’ in India” and improved its position by 41 ranks internationally in the EoDB index. ‘You could do this because of your unique approach and strategic efforts. First you gave relaxation in income tax. You introduced GST Council and you worked in coordination with the States. All these paid dividends,” she said.
“I would like to know from you why a similar approach was not adopted to address the problems of farmers. All of us together have passed some 31 bills during the past four years to improve the country’s ranking in EoDB. But when it comes to farmers issues, we passed only two bills so far,” Kavitha pointed out.
Pointed posers to Jaitley
The MP pointed out that the amendment to the Pesticide Bill 1968 was pending since 2004, and was allowed to lapse in the House. “The Nabard bill, Seed bill, cold storage order bill are all yet to be passed by the House. Unless all these bills are taken up seriously, how can the farmers’ income be doubled in the country,” she wondered and urged the government to take up these issues on priority.
Pointing out that in the 2017-18 budget, Rs 70,000 crore was earmarked to meet the subsidy component on fertilizers, the firebrand MP said only three companies were importing fertilizers. “Instead of the practice of giving subsidy to the companies, the government had assured that it would pass on the subsidy directly to farmers. What happened to this promise,” she asked.
Since only three companies were tasked with the responsibility, the distribution to farmers was being delayed by 60 to 70 days, she said. “Why don’t we increase the production of fertilizers internally to avoid such delays,” she said.
She further pointed out that the allocations to irrigation during the past four years were in the order of Rs 35,000 crore. “Given the fact that only 51 per cent of the land in the country has irrigation facility, the allocations to the irrigation sector have to be enhanced substantially,” she argued.
Telangana had taken up giant projects such as Kaleshwaram to meet the irrigation needs of the people across the State, and such projects needed the support of the Central government, she said.
Stresses micro irrigation
Kavitha said there should be more focus on micro irrigation by enhancing subsidies to farmers opting for it. In Telangana, the government was giving 100 per cent subsidy to SC and ST farmers going in for drip irrigation, she said.
She said the crop insurance scheme should be implemented taking individual farmer as a unit. The government had assured 50 per cent more on the support price for farm produce.
The MSP was being given to 26 crops. Only two of them, including rice, were being procured by the Centre. She stressed the need for giving MSP to all crops. Such a move would be a revolutionary one benefiting one and all in the peasant community.
Telangana had given top priority to irrigation and taken up giant projects such as Kaleshwaram to meet the irrigation needs of the people. Such projects needed the support of the Central government to reach out to farmers.
Support to MPs of AP
What has been promised to both the Telugu States as part of the AP Reorganisation Act has to be honoured in letter and spirit. Goverance is a continuous process, irrespective of whether it is BJP or the Congress in power. “We sincerely urge you to ensure fulfilment of the commitments given to Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. She announced her support to the MPs from the TDP and YSRCP from Andhra Pradesh who had been agitating for the past two to three days. Despite being in alliance with the BJP, the TDP members had been agitating and it gives wrong signals to the nation, she said.