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Telangana CM appeals to farmers: Don’t end lives

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By NewsGram Staff Writer

Hyderabad: Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao on Wednesday appealed to farmers not to commit suicides and assured them government assistance.

Replying to the two-day debate in the state assembly on farmers’ suicides, the chief minister said his government was evolving a strategy to solve the problems faced by farmers.

He listed out some steps taken in the last 16 months and also revealed what he proposed to do in the coming days.

KCR, as the chief minister is popularly known, said his government would mobilise another Rs 9,000 crore required for waiver of farm loans.

He said that fulfilling its election promise, the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) government has already released Rs 8,000 crore to waive loans of 36 lakh farmers.

The chief minister said the state has to get Rs 3,000 crore from the 14th Finance Commission with expected increase of Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management (FRBM) limit.

The state government hopes to mobilise another Rs 3,000 crore from sale of government land.

He said another Rs 4,500 crore was expected as tax arrears.

The opposition criticised the government for implementing the loan waiver scheme in installments and blamed it for increase in farmers’ suicides.

It demanded that the remaining amount be released at once to provide some relief to farmers.

Stating that farmers’ suicides was not a problem of only Telangana, KCR said it was a nationwide problem, and the neighbouring states recorded more suicides than Telangana.

While appealing to farmers not to end their lives, KCR said Telangana state was not achieved for farmers to commit suicides.

He blamed the neglect and injustice suffered by Telangana in the undivided Andhra Pradesh for the crisis in the agriculture sector.

Reiterating his vision to turn Telangana into the ‘seed bowl of the world’, he assured the assembly that his government will take all steps in this regard.

He said 364 seed companies based in and around Hyderabad will adopt a ‘mandal’ each for the seed production.

He cited lack of irrigation facility, depleting ground water, deforestation, poor rainfall and lack of research in agriculture as other reasons for farmers’ suicides.

KCR said the government would focus on research to increase agricultural productivity.

An agricultural officer will be appointed for every 5,000 acres.

He told the house that the agriculture department has 5,000 vacancies.

Stating that the problems of farmers can’t be solved without providing irrigation facility, he said the government has given top priority to complete the projects pending for decades.

He said Rs 25,000 crore will be allocated every year for the next three years to complete the projects.

Claiming that his government overcame the electricity shortage in less than a year and was supplying uninterrupted power to industry, he said the farm sector was also being provided quality power for seven hours a day.

He promised that from March next year, this will be increased to nine hours a day.

Agriculture Minister P Srinivas Reddy said recently that 430 famers ended their lives in the last 15 months.

The opposition parties, however, alleged that 1,400 famers have ended their lives since the separate state came into existence in June last year.

According to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), 898 farmers committed suicides in Telangana during 2014.

It was the second highest number in the country after Maharashtra, which reported 2,568 farmer suicides.

(With inputs from IANS)

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Telangana CM urges Jaitley to hike cap on borrowings

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New Delhi/Hyderabad: Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao on Tuesday met Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in New Delhi and urged him to hike the cap prescribed by Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management (FRBM) Act for raising loans.

The chief minister also discussed the issues of the central government’s help for the state’s development and allocation of funds under various central schemes.

Jaitley told reporters after the meeting that the chief minister made certain suggestions with regard to raising resources for the state and methodologies for the same.

“He wants the FRBM’s limit for the state to be raised. He gave documents in support of that. Expenditure department will consider the feasibility,” Jaitley said.

KCR, as the chief minister is popularly called, said the central government should relax the FRBM norms and allow the state to borrow loans up to 3.49 percent of Gross State Domestic Product (SSDP) against the existing limit of less than 2.7 percent.

The state’s representative in the national capital Venugopala Chary said KCR reiterated the requests made earlier.

KCR also sought the central government’s help for drought relief and more allocation of funds for Mission Kakatiya and Jalaharam, the flagship programmes of the state government for development of irrigation and drinking water supply.

The chief minister also called for more funds for the development of backward districts of the state.

KCR later in the day will attend a meeting of the sub-committee of Niti Aayog (National Institution for Transforming India) on devolution of funds to states and centrally sponsored schemes.

KCR had earlier urged Niti Aayog to relax the FRBM norms so that the state could borrow more loans for taking up development schemes.

He is of the view the FRBM guidelines for raising resources through borrowings for revenue surplus states should be on a par with the central government.

The chief minister said such a relaxation would enable the newly-created states to invest in capital infrastructure to improve the economic growth.

(IANS)

 

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Telangana and Andhra pay homage to police martyrs

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Hyderabad: Rich tributes were paid on Wednesday to policemen who laid down their lives in the line of duty on the Police Commemoration Day in both Telangana and Andhra Pradesh.

Telangana Governor E.S.L. Narasimhan and Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao laid wreaths at the martyr’s memorial at Goshamahal Stadium, where a parade was held to mark the occasion.

Home Minister N. Narasimha Reddy, Director General of Police Anurag Sharma and senior officials were also present.

Speaking on the occasion, the chief minister said the society would also remain indebted to policemen for providing it the protection and even sacrificing their lives while performing their duty.

Stating that peace is a must for development of the state, the Chief Minister said the government would deal firmly with terrorism, extremism, communalism and white-collar crimes.

KCR, as the Chief Minister is popularly known, said police should work for the development of the newly-created state. He said a foundation stone would be laid soon for a 24-storey command and control centre in Hyderabad.

He announced a string of measures for the welfare of police force. Police constables, head constables, assistant sub-inspectors, home guards and ex-servicemen will be allotted 10 percent houses under two-bedroom housing scheme of the government. House sites will be allocated for sub-inspectors and other police officials.

Annual uniform allowance for police personnel has been increased from Rs.3,500 to Rs.7,500. Housing sites allotted by the government for the families of police martyrs will be exempted from the registration fee.

KCR said since traffic policemen spend several hours in polluted atmosphere to regulate the city traffic, the government has decided to pay them pollution allowance, which will be 30 percent of their basic pay.

Ministers and senior police officials also paid tributes to police martyrs at the functions held at district headquarters.

As many as 443 police personnel laid down their lives this year in India. They include four policemen in Telangana.

In neighbouring Andhra Pradesh, Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu and Director General of Police J.V. Ramudu paid tributes at the main official function held in Vijayawada.

Naidu announced Rs.15 crore for the welfare of police personnel. He asked police to be accessible to the poor and those from the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes and other weaker sections to solve their problems.

The chief minister said police should be on guard to maintain law and order as it was necessary to bring investments to the state.

(IANS)

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No deaths: Agriculture ministry is ostrich-like over farmer suicides

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New Delhi: If the union agriculture ministry is to be believed, not a single farmer’s suicide was registered in Bihar and Rajasthan in the past 15 years due to agrarian reasons. This is sharp contrast to the data isues by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB).

Altogether, 7,927 suicides were recorded by people involved in agriculture/farming between 2000 and 2014 in Rajasthan and 975 in Bihar, according to the NCRB.

The department of agriculture’s ‘no deaths’ in the two states during the years 2000 to 2014 came in response to an RTI enquiry by IANS. No explanation was given given by the department as to why they have no record of such deaths.

Not only that, according to the department, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh registered only four and one deaths, respectively, due to agrarian reasons during the same period.

The NCRB data on suicides, though, shows that in Madhya Pradesh 21,138 suicides by famers occured while Uttar Pradesh saw 8,531 deaths in the fifteen years in question.

Among the other states that reported zero or single-digit number of farmer suicide, according to RTI reply sent by the department, were Odisha, Haryana, West Bengal, Delhi, Tripura, Assam, Jharkhand, and Himachal Pradesh.

It also said that states like Gujarat and Chhattisgarh recorded, in 15 years, just five and one deaths, respectively.

The NCRB puts the number of farmer suicides case in 15 years in Chhattisgarh at 15,099, West Bengal 13,098, Gujarat, 8,309, Assam 3,908, Odisha 3,439, Jharkhand 1,197, Himachal Pradesh 669, Tripura 430 and Delhi 191.

The Union agriculture minister Radhe Mohan Singh drew sharp criticism from the media in July this year for attributing the causes of farmers’ suicide to issues like love affair and impotency in a reply to a question in Rajya Sabha on the issue of farmers’ suicide.

The department of agriculture may argue that the NCRB data of suicides involving people in agriculture and farming may be due to various factors like bankruptcy or sudden change in economic status, marital trouble, not having children, illness, death of dear a person, dowry dispute or other issues — everything other than agrarian distress.

But experts say that each factor — as stated by NCRB — responsible for suicides is directly or indirectly related to agrarian reason. It has also said that states do not record farmers’ suicides in a serious manner.

“There are lots of discrepancies in the registering farmers’ suicide data by the states. A large number of farmers in our country don’t have their own land. Most of them work on somebody else’s land. The government doesn’t record suicides committed by these farmers,” K. Nagaraj, former professor at Madras Institute of Development Studies (MIDS) in Tamil Nadu told IANS.

The reason state governments don’t register farmers’ suicides, he adds, was because they know they would have to compensate their families. “Moreover, they understate the figures because they want to show that the situation is not so bad,” Nagaraj said.

According to the data received from the department of agriculture and cooperation, the only states which registered any large number of farmers suicides in 15 years were Maharashtra with 7,678 deaths, Andhra Pradesh with 2,259 deaths, Karnataka with 1,484 and Kerala with 948. Tamil Nadu had recorded 13 deaths, it said.

The NCRB of course paints a totally different picture. Maharashtra saw 54,941 suicides, Andhra Pradesh 30,752, Karnataka 30,604 Kerala 16,088 and Tamil Nadu 12,373.

According to NCRB data, the total number of suicides by people involved in farming/agriculture from 2000 to 2014 is 238,658. However, the number of such suicides as stated by the department of agriculture during the same period is 18,271 — less than eight per cent. Something obviously is wrong in the system.

(Sidhartha Dutta, IANS)