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Union Budget
Union Budget 2015: Vidarbha farmers losing hopes of getting any big relief
Vidarbha region of Maharashtra, which is epicenter of farmer suicide has reported 14 fresh cases of suicide, including one from village Dabhadi where on March 20, 2014, PM Narendra Modi had held "Chai Pe Charcha" with farmers and had made pre-poll promises on farm loan waiver and giving higher MSP according to a proposed formula of investment plus 50 per cent returns.

But some recent signals given by the NDA government indicate that BJP is treating the issue of minimum support price (MSP) and waiver of farm loans as a 'Jumla' (empty election promise) and sidelined the rural and agrarian crisis from its priority list. There is no hope in the upcoming Union budget of getting any relief to address the acute agrarian crisis with focus on credit, cost and crop issues hence to stop farmers suicides, a key farmers' advocacy group in the drought-prone Vidarbha region, Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti (VJAS) said in a press statement.

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Jan Andolan Samiti has demanded from the Centre to relook in to the budgetary allocation as Maharashtra's Vidarbha region has been witnessing thousands of suicides by the farmers in the past due to debt, drought and crop failure.

When poor are demanding food under universal PDS and farmers are killing themselves due to debt and poor prices of agriculture produce, Indian government is planning to withdraw present structure of PDS by the way of DBT and diverting agriculture budgetary allotment in so called investment infrastructure. This will make life of poor and farmers miserable, VJAS president, Kishore Tiwari, said in a press release.

When the Maharashtra state government officially declared that 60 per cent of its villages were facing a "severe drought" of the century, last year, affecting almost 90 lakh farmers in state. 23,811 of state's total 39,453 villages fall under this category after complete kharif crop was damaged. Vidarbha region experienced fourth drought in the state since 2008 in a row, forcing more than 40,000 debt-trapped farmers to kill themselves during the period, he claimed.

Kishore Tiwari said the NDA ruled government had made Vidarbha farm suicide a major election issue and had promised of better cost and credit for farm produce but economic agenda and recent statements of ministers and officials, reflect that they are deviating from their promises as the Centre while filing an affidavit in the Supreme Court said the government cannot give the MSP on the basis of the BJP's proposed formula of investment plus 50 per cent returns as it goes contrary to all existing formulae of the Commission on Agriculture Costs and Prices.

Similarly, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has said that since all earlier farm loan waiver packages have failed to provide relief and such packages would add to banks' NPAs ? this has dashed all the hopes of the debt trapped farmers of getting any relief in the next Union Budget.

"All relief packages never focused on credit, cost and crop issues, hence failed to curb the existing distress this year too. The state government has released relief worth Rs 2,000 crore so far, and moreover asked the Central government aid worth Rs 4,800 crore and has given only Rs. 500 crore. Hence, in view 1,160 farmers suicides in Maharashtra in 2014, and 120 in 2015 (till date), this year may prove to be worse for the agrarian communities in the country, it was high time that the Centre looks at agrarian crisis seriously in Vidarbha and announce special plan to address existing despair," Tiwari said while urging Prime Minister Narendra Modi to look into the matter.

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