Greetings from Swaraj Abhiyan!
Farmers gathered from many parts of the country at Jantar Mantar to attend the Kisan Sansad organized by Jai Kisan Andolan and other farmers unions and organizations were shocked by the anti-farmer budget presented by the NDA Government in 2017. This was a crucial budget for farmers. After years of drought, with a good monsoon, farmers were hopeful of revival. Then demonetization struck – a Government-made disaster. Yet the farmers trusted their government. There was expectation that with the budget, the Government would remove the pain they have suffered due to demonetization and focus attention on the long standing issues of farmers – Income Assurance, Rescue from Debt-trap and Climate Change related disaster-proofing remedies.
All hopes and expectations of the farmers were belied by the budget.
Income Increase: No clear roadmap or strategies to double farmers’ income as was promised while presenting Union Budget 2016-17 – same promise repeated in 2017-18. Farmers once again get only words and promises.
Credit: Farm credit target revised from Rs. 9.5 lakh crore in 2016-17 to Rs. 10 lakh crore in 2017-18. This is not a Government allocation or expenditure but loans have to be given by banks. In any case this is routine – same increases have taken place for several years now. More importantly, not mentioned how this would reach small, marginal and tenant farmers who constitute 86% of farming community.
Interest Subvention: In 2016-17, Rs. 18,822 crores spent on interest subvention but only 15,300 crores budgeted in 2017-18.
PMFBY: Big talk and impossible claims about Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojna (PMFBY). In 2016-17, Rs. 13,240 crore spent on premium by Government but in 2017-18 only Rs. 9,000 crores allotted. Still Government claims it will increase coverage from 26.5% to 40%.
Bonanza for Insurance Companies: Expenditure on premium increased to Rs. 13,240 crores but covered only 26.5% of farmers. All this money went to insurance companies. No mention of how much claims the farmers got in return.
Irrigation-Only Corpus Funds?: In 2016-17, Rs. 20,000 crore was allocated for long term irrigation corpus fund with NABARD but no mention of how much was actually spent. In 2017-18, this has been increased to Rs. 40,000 crore and still there is no mention of how much will be spent or what irrigation facilities will be created.
Dairy: Big announcement of Rs. 2000 crore for dairy processing fund but the total allocation under animal husbandry is only Rs.2,371 crores compared to Rs. 1,994 crore revised expenditure of 2016-17. So no major allocation really made – just clever window dressing.
Mission Antyodaya – No Allocation: Grand announcement of 1 crore households being lifted out of poverty and 50, 000 Gram Panchayats being made poverty free through Mission Antyodaya. But all this through existing schemes. No new allocation !!
Govt proudly claimed that allocation for NREGS has been increased to a record Rs.48,000 crores. But this is no different from Revised Expenditure of 2016-17 which was Rs.47,500 crores!
Even this large expenditure of last year is no credit to the government. It was forced by the Supreme Court orders in the Swaraj Abhiyan case on Drought. In fact, as per demand projection of States, it should have increased to Rs.80,000 crores!
Demonetization – All Pain No Gain? Farmers and agricultural workers faced enormous losses due to Demonetization, affecting both their Kharif crop sales and Rabi crop cultivation. They hoped for a major announcement compensating for the losses, but got absolutely nothing.
What’s Missing – Income Security: Farmers wanted an Income Guarantee system to assure sustainable income level for all farming households. They demanded RUPYA (Remunerative Universal Price and Yield Assurance). Finance Minister talked about Income Security for farmers last year, but no action on it once again
Relief from Debt Trap: Farmers wanted a big path-breaking measure, which would lift them out of the debt trap. Not a single step in this direction. No measures to help small, marginal and tenant farmers who are trapped in private loans with little access to institutional finance.
Support for Disaster-affected Farmers: Farmers affected by 2 consecutive droughts, and other calamities like floods were hoping for a big revival package. Government gave nothing but PMFBY which has already failed to help them this year.
Jai Kisan Andolan and allied farmers organizations including Bhartiya Kisan Union, Karnataka Rajya Rayyat Sangh, Kisan Sangharsh Samiti, Raithu Swarajya Vedike and National Alliance of Farmers Movements shall soon meet and stock of the situation arising out of this anti-farmer budget and plan the way forward to emancipate farmers from the yoke of this cruel and uncaring Modi Government.
Yogendra Yadav Avik Saha
Founder, Jai Kisan Andolan National Convenor, Jai Kisan Andolan
Thanks & Regards,
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