Farmers pin hope on more allocation for irrigation, loan waiver

Apart from MSP and market intervention, farmers hit hard by drought are demanding a farm loan waiver.
Image used for representational purposes only.
Image used for representational purposes only. express illustration

MYSORE: Even as farmers are on the warpath to lay siege to Delhi, demanding legal sanctity for minimum support prices of agricultural produce, farmers in Karnataka have high expectations that Chief Minister Siddaramaiah will make the farm sector lucrative.

Farmers want the government to come up with long-term solutions which focus on thrust areas like agriculture and irrigation, and want the government to announce time-bound programmes and implement the Karnataka Agriculture Price Commission and TN Prakash Kammaradi recommendations, so farmers don’t end up with losses.

Copra farmers are expecting the announcement of an increase in MSP prices, cold storage in drought-affected districts of Chitradurga, Kittur and Kalyana Karnataka, setting up of a distillery in MySugar factory and promoting floriculture in a big way to tap the international market.

Farmers are not happy with the transfer of Rs 2,000 to their accounts towards drought relief and want the government to pay Rs 40,000 per acre as relief in the Cauvery basin, as discharge of water from the KRS has snatched their livelihood.

Apart from MSP and market intervention, farmers hit hard by drought are demanding a farm loan waiver. They want a Farmers’ Debt Relief Committee to be set up on the lines of the Kerala government, to study the problems they are facing, distress and debt, and to stop them from committing suicide.

The farming community wants concrete programmes to expedite irrigation projects like the Upper Bhadra Project to utilise 29.9tmcft of water to irrigate drought-affected Chitradurga, and fill up tanks in Tumakuru district.

Farmer leader Echagatta Siddaveerappa, who is on an indefinite stir for the Upper Bhadra project, wants the State and Centre to stop blaming one another, and complete the project in a year. Expectations are high for the Upper Krishna Project 3rd Stage, to increase the height of the Almatti dam from 519ft to 523ft, which will increase water storage capacity by 130 tmcft that will irrigate 6lakh acres in Kittur and Kalyana Karnataka region.

Though the water-sharing dispute between Telangana and Andhra Pradesh is pending before the apex court, the Karnataka government should set aside Rs 20,000-30,000 crore to take up land acquisition and rehabilitation of 22 villages falling in Bagalkote, Vijayapura and Gadag districts, and CM Siddaramaiah should prevail on the Centre to issue the notification.

The government should also exhibit political will to get forest, environmental and wildlife clearance for execution of the Mahadayi project, to utilise 3.93tmcft of water allocated to Karnataka, other than executing the lift irrigation project in Kabini-Cauvery and Krishna basins, rather than dragging its feet on the ambitious projects.

Expectations are high that the Mekedatu balancing reservoir project will be constructed, with a storage capacity of 67tmcft to meet drinking water needs of Bengaluru and other districts. The survey carried out by the forest and revenue departments is almost complete, and the government should provide funds for the rehabilitation of landlosers for the proposed project in Mandya, Chamarajanagar and Ramanagara districts.

While farmers in Mysuru and Chamarajanagar districts want the Kabini second phase, tank filling projects have given a big push, and there is growing demand to set up a third treatment plant for the Koramangala-Challaghatta Valley project that covers both Kolar and Chikkaballapur districts.

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The New Indian Express