Karnataka CM Kumaraswamy, under pressure to announce farm loan waiver, seeks 50% support from Modi government

In his address at the 4th meeting of the NITI Ayog governing council in New Delhi, Karnataka CM HD Kumaraswamy said that about 85 lakh farmers have outstanding debts on account of agricultural loans from banks in the state.

Karnataka CM Kumaraswamy, under pressure to announce farm loan waiver, seeks 50% support from Modi government
Pic courtesy: Twitter/@CMofKarnataka

Bengaluru: Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy on Sunday requested the Central government for 50 per cent support to his government's farm loan waiver scheme.

"Debt of farmers is staring us in the face. My government is ready to address this problem and I request the Government of India to support us," he said.

In his address at the 4th meeting of the NITI Ayog governing council in New Delhi, a copy of which was shared with the media here, the CM said in Karnataka about 85 lakh farmers have outstanding debts on account of agricultural loans from banks.

He said, "Due to recurring droughts, the distress of the farmers is even more severe. I request the Government of India to provide 50 per cent support for our loan waiver initiative."

Kumaraswamy is under intense pressure to announce the farm loan waiver that his party, the JD(S) had promised in the run-up to the assembly elections in Karnataka.

After initially citing coalition compulsions for the delay, the chief minister on May 30 amid the opposition and farmers' bodies stepped up pressure on him to fulfill his pre-poll promise, had said his government would arrive at a decision to implement a two-phase scheme for farm loan waiver within 15 days.

With the 15-day deadline coming to an end on June 15, Kumaraswamy reiterated that he was committed to waiving the farm loan and would announce it shortly.

"Dear farmers, let there be no confusion on the farm loan waiver. I am fully committed to the loan waiver. I want to ensure it is done scientifically benefiting maximum number of farmers. I am working on the the modalities and will announce it shortly," he had said in a tweet on Friday.

Addressing the NITI Aayog governing council meeting for the first time, Kumaraswamy said the new government has to fulfill several aspirations of the people of Karnataka, and "we need full support of the Government of India for this."

"While we represent various political ideologies, when it comes to development we should work together," he said.

Stressing the need for gearing up to climate resilient agriculture, Kumaraswamy said, the climate change is a reality, especially so in the agriculture sector.

"I call upon the Government of India to harness national and international expertise to develop a comprehensive framework, strategies and practices for ushering a climate resilient agriculture revolution in the country," he added.

Noting that water is becoming a scarce resource and is going to be a limiting factor for growth, both in agriculture as well as other sectors, he also suggested dedicating a full decade for "extensive and intensive" water conservation efforts.

Highlighting that allocation to Karnataka for the period 2015-20 under SDRF (State Disaster Response Fund) is only Rs 1,375 crore, which is much less than the allocation to other states, the chief minister said the state's unmet needs are huge but has not been addressed either in the Finance Commission award or under the NDRF.

"A comprehensive discussion is needed on this issue," he added.

Kumaraswamy further said he is sure the NITI Aayog will prove its federal character given the developmental disparities in India and added the Aayog and the Union government must re-emphasise federal and participative medium-term planning with concrete goals and inclusive development programmes. 

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