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Congress stages walkout from Council over farmers’ issue

The Congress party staged a walkout from the Telangana State Legislative Council on Thursday over the farmers’ issue.

Leader of Opposition in Telangana Legislative Council Mohammed Ali Shabbir said that the State Government has failed to give a specific date or assurance on when the remaining dues of crop loan waiver scheme would be cleared. Further, the government did not announce moratorium to provide relief to farmers from private financiers. Therefore, in protest, he announced that the Congress party was staging a walkout from the House.

Reacting to the reply given by Agriculture Minister Pocharam Srinivas Reddy to the debate on farmers issues in Legislative Council on Thursday, Shabbir Ali expressed dissatisfaction over the government’s reply. He said that the State Government has failed to provide long term or short term solutions to the agrarian crisis.

“Why did the government failed to react after learning about first spate of suicides. Chief Minister K. Chandrashekar Rao and other ministers should have conducted Rythu Sadassus by involving all parties. They should have visited the affected families and conveyed a strong message to all farmers asking them not to resort to any extreme step. However, nothing was done,” said Shabbir Ali. The government did not even react to the Congress party’s demand for holding a special Assembly session. “This session has been convened after almost six months only to complete constitutional obligation and not due to their love for farmers,” he said.

Shabbir Ali said timely action could have prevented at least 1,000 suicides. He also slammed the State Government for not declaring drought hit districts despite having the list of rain deficient mandals. He said the neighbouring Andhra Pradesh got Rs. 237 crore Central Relief for its seven drought hit districts. “We could have fought with the Centre for denial of funds. However, the mistake was committed by the State Government itself by not declaring the drought hit districts,” he said.

The Congress leader also asked the State Government to convene a meeting with State Level Bankers Committee and direct them not to harass farmers. He also condemned the attitude of some banks that ignore large scale cheating by industrialists, but harass farmers even for small dues and arrears. He also asked the government to make effective representation with the Centre to get best MSP for farmers. He said steps should also be taken to get crop insurance for all farmers.

Shabbir Ali said that the State Government should clear the remaining dues of crop loan waiver scheme. He said payment of crop loan waiver in instalments had aggravated the problems for farmers which consequently led many of them to commit suicide. “You either borrow the money from Centre, raise bonds or make some other arrangements. Arranging Rs. 8,000 crore to clear crop loan dues should not be a problem for the richest State,” he said adding that the documents, gold and relevant papers should be given back to all the farmers along with Dues Clearance Certificate.

He also demanded special package for those who lost their crops. Further, incentives and packages should be offered for short-term crops and Rabi season. Stating that the previous Congress Government gave moratorium for six months to farmers from private financiers, he demanded that a similar moratorium should be extended for about two-three years. He said that the farmers should be protected from the harassment of private financiers.

Welcoming the enhancement of compensation to Rs. 6 lakh with effect from 2nd June, 2014, Shabbir Ali said all cases of suicides should be re-investigated. Based on FIRs, he said all cases should be re-verified by the three-member committee in 30 days by holding Grama Sabhas.

He also wanted the NRI Cell to be revived as it would help several farmers and their families in North Telangana. He also stressed on payment of dues to sugarcane farmers from Nizams Sugar Factory. Similarly, he said black jaggery should be purchased through Markfed.

Describing TRS Government as U-Turn Sarkar, Shabbir Ali pointed out several decisions, which were taken and reserved by KCR. They include decisions on shifting of Secretariat, Chest Hospital, Osmania Hospital or taking over of Osmania University’s land. He also condemned the government for its proposal to change the design of Pranahita-Chevella Project and said it was aimed at delaying the project. He said the proposed change would badly affect the Nizamabad district.

Shabbir Ali appealed to the farmers not to commit suicide under any circumstances. However, citing State Government’s failure to give a concrete assurance, he said that the Congress party was staking a walkout. He then came out of the House along with Congress MLCs including Ponguleti Sudhakar Reddy, MS Prabhakar, Akula Lalitha and others. (INN)