Haveri: Providing succour to distressed farmers, the Karnataka government Saturday announced waiver of interest and penal interest on crop loans from cooperative banks for the current fiscal and hike in compensation from Rs 2 lakh to Rs 5 lakh to families of farmers who had committed suicide.
The government would also increase monthly widow pension from Rs 500 to Rs 2,000 and bear educational expenses of children up to post-graduation level in the families of farmers who had committed suicide, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah said.
Siddaramaiah made the announcement at a rally at Gudugur in Haveri district in north Karnataka in the presence of Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, who is on a two-day visit to the state which has seen a sudden jump in suicides with 541 farmers taking away their lives in the last six months.
Rahul, who visited distress hit Mandya district yesterday, had hinted at a relief package. He undertook a padayatra and interacted with farmers in Haveri district, besides addressing the rally today.
Siddaramaiah said the compensation in case of suicides would also be applicable to landless labourers.
Cooperative banks had also been asked to reschedule loans and defer recovery of instalments for a year, he said.
Siddaramaiah said the state government would also work towards getting higher Minimum Support Price, a subject that fell within the Centre's purview, for paddy, jowar and ragi.
The government, he said, had also ordered a crackdown on moneylenders who were fleecing the farmers and more than 1,300 cases had been booked against them with 568 arrested. "We will work for waiver of loans borrowed from money lenders also," he said.
Siddaramaiah appealed to the farmers not to commit suicide, saying "it is not the solution" and the government was with them in their crisis. The state has been facing severest drought for the past 10 years, suffering a crop loss of Rs 16,000 crore, he said.