A day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi called Karnataka’s farm loan waiver promise as the “cruelest joke on farmers”, even state’s agriculture minister N H Shivashankar Reddy expressing doubts over its usefulness.
The minister, who is responsible to fulfil government’s poll promise, said today that the loan waivers are not a long-term solution for farmers in distress. The Congress leader said that loan waivers will give the farmers only an immediate relief from their burden.
In a way referring to his government’s delay in implementing the poll promise, the minister said that the state is mulling agriculture methods especially the Israeli model with better technology. He emphasised on the need of technology as a long-term solution for farmer issues.
As many as 88 per cent of Karnataka talukas have been declared as drought-hit indicating the severe distress conditions of the farmers in the state. “This year also, we did not get good rainfall. We have already waived off loans taken by farmers through cooperative societies. As a second step, we are also planning to waive off loans availed from commercial banks,” the minister added.
The loan waiver scheme is expected to benefit close to 50 lakh farmers in the state at a cost of close to Rs 45,000 crore. However, the state government told the legislative assembly on December 12 that the loan waiver has helped only 800 farmers so far.
The agriculture minister says the delay is due to the huge sum involved and time taken in persuading the banks, and not due to the shortage of funds. Distributing “debt-free certificates” to farmers in Bagalkote, an emotional Kumaraswamy on Friday swore on his son that he would waive off all farm loans