Maharashtra panel wants govt to set up agri risk fund

Moratorium on loan recovery and restructuring of rural finances suggested to help farming community

GN Staff | September 4, 2015


#Maharashtra   #marathwada   #agriculture   #loan   #farmer  

As the Marathwada region of Maharashtra reels under drought like conditions due to failure of monsoon, a panel constituted by state government has recommended moratorium on debt recovery and establishment of agriculture risk fund.

The committee, headed by activist and Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti chief Kishore Tiwari, was tasked with studying agrarian crisis in the state and suggest solutions.

Sustainable livelihoods for the poor should be promoted by improving financial services, Infrastructure and investments in human development, agriculture and business development services, it said.

In this direction the task force advised a slew of measures like restoration of farm credit, insurance to farmers and restructuring rural financial institutions, among others to resolve the agrarian crisis and prevent farmers’ suicides.

It suggested expansion of the formal credit system to reach the poor and reduce the rate of interest for crop loans to 4 per cent.

"There should be a moratorium on debt recovery, including loans from non-institutional sources, and waiver of interest on loans in distress hot-spots and during calamities.” It suggested revolutionary method of establishment of an agriculture risk fund to provide relief to farmers in the aftermath of successive natural calamities."

An integrated credit-cum-crop-livestock-human health insurance package should be developed and crop insurance cover should be expanded to cover the entire state and all crops with reduced premiums, it said.  The panel also advised the government to create a rural insurance development fund to take up development works for spreading rural insurance.

It further said the debt waiver scheme implemented in 2007-08 has not addressed the "indebtedness arising from the non-institutional creditors."

"A plan for 'moneylender-free village' should be adopted where at least one member of each family in a village should become a member of some self-help group (SHG). Also, every rural and semi-urban branch of each bank should adopt one village in its jurisdiction," it said. The panel has incorporated the recommendations of several committees appointed by the central and the state governments.

Meanwhile, the Bombay high court has asked the Maharashtra government to inform it if the state had a contingency plan in place to tackle a drought-like situation in the state.

A division bench of justices V M Kanade and Shalini Phansalkar-Joshi was hearing a petition filed by Solapur-based farmer Siddeshwar Warade who sought a direction to the government to release water from Ujani dam for irrigation purposes in Mohol and Mangalwedha talukas. Mahadeo Choudhary, appearing for the petitioner, argued that even if one rotation of water was released, it would save the standing crops and also not affect the problem of drinking water in Solapur.

The court asked if the government had come up with any disaster management plan considering the fact that rainfall had been scanty not just in Solapur area but the entire Marathwada and Vidarbha regions.  The next hearing will take place on September 8.

The court was informed that the Maharashtra Water Resources Regulatory Authority would hold a meeting today (Friday) to discuss various issues. The court has also asked the state to inform it “what steps have been taken to tap water from other sources, including underground water which can be supplied in drought-like situation if there is no rain”.

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