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‘No measures to resolve agrarian crisis’

Calls for GST waiver on fertilizers, farm equipment

Nalgonda MP and Telangana Pradesh Congress Committee (TPCC) president N. Uttam Kumar Reddy has observed that the BJP-led NDA government at the Centre has no concrete plans to resolve the agrarian crisis and doubling the farmers’ income by 2022.

Initiating the debate on demands for grants of the ministries of Rural Development, Agriculture and Farmers Welfare in the Lok Sabha on Tuesday, Mr. Reddy accused the BJP government of paying “lip service” to the cause of farmers and not taking any concrete measure to resolve the agrarian crisis and also doubling the farmers’ income by 2022.

“Country’s farmer is in the midst of a serious agrarian crisis today with more than 30 farmers committing suicide every day and it needs some serious measures to stop the distress,” he said. He requested the Centre either to completely exempt fertilizers and agriculture machinery from GST net or place them it in the lowest tax rate slab. He stated that GST on tractors and agricultural machinery had increased the input costs of farmers.

Seeking more interventions, he sought announcement of ₹6,000 minimum support price for cotton and establishment of a turmeric board for Nizamabad farmers and also a legislation to help tenant farmers. He reminded that Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, during his visit to Nizamabad for election campaign, had promised to establish Turmeric Board and it was time the Centre honoured its election promise.

The Congress MP said the worst sufferers were tenant farmers as they constituted 30% of total farmers in Telangana against 15% in rest of the country. The tenant farmers had no access to bank or institutional finance and they do not get benefit from either PM Kisan Samman Nidhi or crop insurance. Consequently, they go to money lenders and when the crops fail they commit suicide, he explained.

He pointed out that expenditure by the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare during 2018-19 was only ₹53,000 crore with a 29% shortfall against the revised budget allocation of ₹75,753 crore.

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