Supreme Court notice to FM over areca growers' pleas

'Unable to repay loans, 988 farmers committed suicide between 2003 and 2011 in DK, Chikmagalur, Kodagu, Shimoga'

The Supreme Court has issued a notice to the Union Finance Ministry on the failure of the government in waiving off loans borrowed by arecanut growers whose plantations have been affected with the fruit rot disease and yellow leaf disease in Dakshina Kannada, Chikmagalur, Shimoga and parts of Kodagu districts, said Kissan Kheth Mazdoor Congress state vice president Sachin Meega.

Speaking to mediapersons on Wednesday, he said following a PIL filed by the Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha and Hasiru Sene, the High Court of Karnataka had passed a verdict on September 25, 2012, urging the government to waive off the loans within three months. Unfortunately, the government had failed to waive off the loans and implement the recommendations made by Gorakh Singh Committee, following which, a special leave petition was filed in the Supreme Court and the court after admitting the case has issued a notice to the finance ministry and all the 27 nationalised banks and cooperative banks.

Meega said that the Nabard has issued a circular to all the nationalised banks and cooperative banks on reschedule the outstanding loans borrowed by the arecanut growers. The government had rescheduled the outstanding loans borrowed by the arecanut growers. Under the scheme, all outstanding loans as on March 31, 2009, shall be rescheduled. The repayment period for the rescheduled loans, including fresh loans, will be 11 years. No penal interest to be charged on the outstanding loans for the period from April 1, 2009 to March 31, 2011 to be waived by respective banks.  Inspite of the Nabard issuing a circular to all the bankers, the nationalised banks are indulging in forcible recovery of loans, thus creating fear in the minds of farmers.

The banks should stop forcible recovery of loans borrowed by the growers. Meega said that the Congress in its election manifesto had promised to waive off the loans borrowed by the growers once it comes to power. However, no action has been initiated so far, which has been brought to the notice of the Supreme Court. In the meantime, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah has announced compensation of Rs 12,000 per hectare crop loss through horticulture department.

Stating that 988 farmers have ended their lives having unable to repay loans borrowed from 2003 to 2011, Meega said that there are 2.65 lakh farmer families in DK, Chikmagalur, Shimoga and parts of Kodagu districts. More number of farmers have committed suicide in these three districts than Vidarba, he added.

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