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Opposition corners govt on agrarian crisis

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on January 23, 2018 Published on April 27, 2015

Sitaram Yechury, CPI (M) member, speaks in the Rajya Sabha on the farmers’ suicide issue.   -  PTI

Unhappy over Agriculture Minister’s reply in Rajya Sabha on support price, MPs stage a walkout

The Government, on Monday, failed to convince the Opposition about the measures it is taking to address distress in the agriculture sector.

Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh told the Rajya Sabha that he does not buy the statistics on farmers’ suicides. He told elders that the Government is yet to take a decision on implementing the MS Swaminathan Commission report.

Singh said more than 1,22,000 farmers committed suicide in the last six years. He said just three State Governments — Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh and Punjab — have said that farmers’ suicides were reported in those States in 2014. “But I myself do not take these statistics seriously. There have been reports of farmers’ suicides in various parts of the country. We will have to take such reports seriously and try to address the issue in a united manner,” the Minister said.

Earlier, the Opposition MPs, particularly from the Left, JD (U) and Samajwadi Party, had asked the Minister when his Government was going to implement the promise in the BJP manifesto that said that farmers will be given minimum support price, which is 50 per cent profit over and above the input cost.

Swaminathan panel report

To which Singh said: “The UPA Government did not implement the Swaminathan Committee report for 10 years. We are just 10-months-old. We are studying the report.” Unhappy with his reply, the entire Opposition walked out of the House. The leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad said the Government had said that the Home Minister and the Food Minister would give their version of the distress during the debate. “Both of them did not reply. The Agriculture Minister’s reply did not have any convincing points. This shows that this Government is callous towards the issue,” Azad added.

The members also raised the issue of changes in the Land Acquisition Act to attack the Centre. Rural Development Minister Birender Singh had earlier said that the new Bill proposes to give back 20 per cent of developed land to farmers whose land has been acquired. He added that the farmer can start new work or business from the compensation he gets after his land is acquired.

Call for sensitivity

CPI (M) leader Sitaram Yechury urged the government to be sensitive towards farmers. “The farmers have no option but to commit suicide. If you are insensitive, you will see bad times...How are we going to address this issue? Neither the economy nor the country can be saved if we don’t address this issue,” he said.

“As per the National Crime Bureau, one peasant committed suicide every 36 minutes and media reports state that 40 farmers have killed themselves in one month,” he added. CPI leader D Raja too questioned the Centre’s approach towards the issue.

Ahmed Patel of the Congress sought to pin down the government asking whether it has removed the consent clause for acquisition of land for issues of national security and for improving irrigation facilities.

“Do you have an action plan for this,” he questioned, to which the Minister said the government will resort to acquiring irrigation land only under “extra-ordinary” circumstances.

Published on April 27, 2015
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