Karnataka farmers give government 15 days to meet demands (Lead)
Bengaluru : The Karnataka Farmers' Association (KFA) on Monday gave the state government 15 days to meet their demands, including loan waiver, minimum support price for all crops and compensation for drought, failing which they would resume and intensify their stir.
"We are suspending our agitation till December 4 and giving the government 15 days to meet all our 39 demands. If they are not fulfilled, we will resume the stir and intensify it across the state," KFA President K.T. Gangadhar told reporters here.
The KFA has made a representation to state Co-operation Minister Bandeppa Khashempur at the Freedom Park in the City Centre where thousands of farmers from across the state staged a day-long protest demonstration against the state government's indifference to their woes.
"As deficit rains during the monsoon period have resulted in drought in 17 of the 30 districts across the state, the affected farmers should be given Rs 25,000 per hectare as compensation for suffering crop loss," said Gangadhar.
Among the demands are subsidy on seeds and fertilizers for rabi crop, fresh credit at lower interest rate for purchasing farm machinery to increase yield per acre and completion of all irrigation tanks/projects for expanding cultivation.
Assuring the farmers of considering most of their demands, as some of them would take time and require resources, Khashempur said the JD-S- Congress coalition government was committed to protecting their interests.
"Our government is pro-farmer and agriculture is a priority sector for us, as 60 per cent of the people are dependent on farming and horticulture. We will study your demands and try to address many of them, if not all due to constraints," said Khashempur.
Earlier in the day, hundreds of farmers reached the city by buses, trains, trucks and tractors from 20 districts including Ramanagara, Mandya, Mysuru, Kodagu, Kolar, Gadag, Tumukuru, Shivamogga, Hassan, Haveri, Hubballi, Belagavi and Bagalkote as their demands remained pending months after the the current government was formed.
"Though Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy announced farm loan waiver in June, the banks have not written off a rupee even after five months. Except for making announcements and giving assurances, nothing has happened.
"We are also unable to take fresh credit as old loans have not been waived off as yet," Karnataka Raitha Sangha head Chamraj Patil told reporters.
Police blocked hundreds of agitators from marching from the Freedom Park to the State Secretariat.
Security was stepped up in the city, with about 1,000 police personnel deployed in the central business district to ensure that the agitation was peaceful.
The other demands include payment of Rs 1,500 crore dues from state-run and private sugar mills for fiscal 2017-18 and Rs 3,000 per tonne minimum support price (MSP) for sugarcane from Rs 2,500 per tonne fixed last year.
"Glut in production, higher inventory of unsold stock and imports have reduced retail price of sugar to Rs 30 per kg even as input costs have doubled," Patil added.
Karnataka is the third-largest sugarcane producer after Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh, which had harvested 32 million tonne in 2017-18.
The drought has affected 15 lakh hectares of agricultural and horticultural crops in 17 districts across the state, with an estimated loss of Rs 8,000 crore.