MYSURU: With Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy all set to present the maiden budget of the coalition government on Thursday, farmers across the state are waiting with bated breath for the much-talked-about farm loan waiver. The government has already made it clear that agriculture loans availed by income tax payees and industrialists will not be waived, raising the hopes of small, marginal and big farmers.
The waiver, costing about Rs 52,000 crore, is expected to cover commercial, nationalised, co-operative banks and other financial institutions and they too are looking forward to what the budget holds for them. Thousands of farmers have refused to repay loans hoping that the coalition government will stand by its promise after having faced successive years of drought.
Farmers' organisation, however, want the scope of the waiver enlarged. Pranthya Raitha Sangha Secretary Bayyareddy wants the government to waive not only crop loans taken from financial institutions but from money lenders too. Only 36% of farmers have availed loans from banks whereas lakhs of them turn to money lenders as they are unable to provide all the required documentation to financial institutions, he argued.
"The state government should constitute a commission to study the ground realities and come out with an Act on the lines of the Kerala government to waive loans borrowed from money lenders too, instead of discriminating against such farmers," he added. Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha leader Kodihalli Chandrashekar said farmers want the government to give a one-time loan waiver as they don't want to press for it in future. Strongly opposing any move to discriminate among farmers as small or big, they want the government to implement the Swaminathan committee recommendations and its formula to ensure scientific prices for agriculture produce.
"We won't need a loan waiver if the government can come up with scientific prices and adequate markets for farm produce," he said. Scientific prices, execution of irrigation projects and focus on rural development will also address farmers' problems, he added. Belagavi District Sugarcane Growers' Association president Erappa Basavanappa Aralikatti said waiver should apply to all farmers, including those growing traditional or commercial crops. "If sugar factories don't pay bills for years, how will farmers survive without taking loans from banks or money lenders?" he asked. The CM should not succumb to the lobby of sugar factories, he added. Shivamurthy, a marginal farmer from Attagulipura, said he is eagerly looking forward to the budget as the banks have served notices on him to recover `1 lakh loans.