Centre, K'taka govt doing nothing to help farmers: Cong

Centre, Karnataka govt doing nothing to help farmers, alleges Congress

DK Shivakumar

Hitting out at both the central and state governments, the Congress in Karnataka on Thursday alleged that both have not come to the rescue of people, especially farmers, who were at the receiving end due to the COVID-19 lockdown.

After a meeting with the leaders of the opposition parties and farmers to discuss the plight of those affected by the lockdown here, Senior Congress leader D K Shivakumar told reporters that they completely supported the government in its fight against the coronavirus, but "it was doing nothing to help people economically." Former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, former speaker K R Ramesh Kumar, former PWD minister and H D Deve Gowda's son H D Revanna, JD(S) MLA Bandeppa Kashempur were also present during the meeting.

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Shivakumar claimed that the Centre has not issued any direction to the banks to waive interest on the loan in view of the lockdown. "All the announcements that banks should be generous in giving loans and exempting from recovering is not happening at the ground level. The Centre has completely failed to handle the banks and financial institutions including the nationalised ones," he alleged.

The Congress urged the government to announce a package of Rs one lakh crore to various companies and to workers of unorganised sector like taxi drivers, barbers, washermen, domestic helps and cobblers. "The government has to announce a plan. Depositing Rs 500 or Rs 1,000 is not an incentive," the state Congress chief emphasised. He predicted that trouble would mount after May 3 as people were in distress and those living on house rents were desperate. At the meeting, Siddaramaiah asked the government to straightaway procure vegetables and fruits from farmers and save them from losses. "The government should procure the vegetables and fruits directly from the farmers and distribute them among the poor people," he said.

Leaders were unanimous that farmers were in a financial crisis due to the lockdown whereas there was no clarity that it may be lifted anytime soon. In the absence of markets, agriculture produce were rotting in lakhs of hectares of land in the state. "There is no proper arrangement to transport agriculture produce. Due to the lockdown, the inter-district and inter- state transportation of agriculture produce has become difficult," Siddaramaiah claimed.

Citing the government estimate, Siddaramaiah said close to 17.38 lakh tonnes of vegetables were grown in 64,340 hectares whereas 32.56 lakh tonnes of fruits in 1.93 lakh hectares. Similarly, flowers of various varieties have been grown over 11,027 hectares and silk production is on in 1.08 lakh hectares.