Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao on Wednesday assured farmers that his government will stand by them, and appealed to them not to commit suicides.
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 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 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 an 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 ‘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 farmers ended their lives in the last 15 months.
The opposition parties, however, alleged that 1,400 farmers have ended their lives since the separate state came into existence in June last year.
According to the National Crime Records Bureau, 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.