BENGALURU: Shantamma Mulagi (56), a farmer from Bidar, flew down to Bengaluru in the hopes of Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy announcing a farm loan waiver. Mulagi, who heads a women farmers' association in the border district of Karnataka, had no choice but to take a flight to cover the 689km distance since she was informed of the meeting only on Tuesday evening. "I spent `4,700 to get here on time. I am a little disappointed that no loan waiver has been announced but we at least had the opportunity to put forth our concerns to the Chief Minister," she told The New Indian Express. Mulagi's statement pretty much sums up the mood at the farmers' meeting that was held in Vidhana Soudha on Wednesday. While no announcement on loan waiver left the farmers disappointed, Kumaraswamy's 'plan for loan waiver' is keeping their hopes high.
Dozens of farmers were present during Wednesday's meet. As Kumaraswamy laid out his plan for a two-phase loan waiver, farmers put across their concerns. "We are yet to receive the full waiver from the previous Siddaramaiah government. Some 20%-25% of the money is pending. We want the government to close those loans first and then take the next step," Shantakumar C, a farmer from Tumakuru, said.
"We expected him to waive off loans today but only a plan has been laid before us. It is a little disappointing. He has taken good decisions but the implementation is what matters," said Ravish Kumar, a farmer from Tumakuru who was impressed with Kumaraswamy's proposal of cold storage facilities and Israel model of farming. "We hope the government provides better rates for organic farming," he added.
From better irrigation facilities to demands on region-wise specific crop schedule and compulsory purchase from the government, farmers raised multiple concerns - all of which H D Kumaraswamy asked to be submitted via letters to his government. For now, Kumaraswamy may have succeeded in buying time to create a framework for the waiver but patience is only proportional to the implementation of waiver, farmers said. "Since Kumaraswamy himself is a farmer, we expect him to understand our concerns. If he doesn't waive off loans, we will not keep quiet," said Shantamma Mulagi as she walked out of the conference hall in Vidhana Soudha.
FARMERS' UNION MEET TODAY
Karnataka State Farmers' Union has called for a meeting of office-bearers in Bengaluru Thursday. Close to 300 farmer leaders from across the state are expected to take part in the meeting scheduled at 11am in Bengaluru. Deliberations will be held on the loan waiver scheme laid out by Kumaraswamy. Farmer representatives are scheduled to meet Kumaraswamy and Deputy Chief Minister Dr G Parameshwara later to make a submission of suggestions and decisions taken.
HDK ASKS FARMERS for SUGGESTIONS
Kumaraswamy who laid out a plan for farm loan waiver has put the onus on the farmers to make suggestions on modalities. The Chief Minister has asked farmers to write to the government on what the riders should be on the "complete farm loan waiver". "Should the waiver apply to people in government and non-government jobs, MPs, MLAs and MLCs and members of cooperative societies? You tell us what you think," he told farmers.