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Centre covering up agrarian distress with propaganda: Farm activists

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IANS New Delhi
NGOs working in the agriculture sector on Tuesday accused the BJP-led central government of trying to cover up the agrarian crisis in the country --which they said was caused due to its "flawed policies and inaction" -- with propaganda.
A bunch of non-government organisations along with Yogendra Yadav-led Swaraj India released 'Green Paper on Farmers, Farming and Rural Economy 2018' to highlight farmers' plight and expose what they dubbed the government's "false claims".
Tearing into the government for making 12 "major blunders" in farm-related areas, Yadav said the National Democratic Alliance government in power since 2014 was the "most anti-farmer" government in the history of independent India.
"The Economic Survey 2018 pointed out decline in rural wages, lower prices for agricultural produce, even below MSP (Minimum Support Price). Even farmers' income are either stagnant or declining in the last four years," Yadav told the media here.
"We are not saying that the previous governments did anything good for farmers but the present government is actually bringing them down. However, it is busy in showing off, indulging in publicity, and betraying the promises it made to farmers. It is the most anti-farmer government since independence."
Kiran Kumar Vissa of Rythu Swarajya Vedika said the government's various schemes had failed to provide relief to farmers but private companies and traders.
Private insurance companies made windfall gains through Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana, the ambitious crop insurance scheme brought by the government, he said.
The government was not serious about 'market intervention scheme' and 'price support scheme' -- mechanisms to support farmers in the wake of price fall -- as the allocation was low, Vissa said.
"After farmers' protest, the central government came up with 'market assurance scheme'. But it asked the states to take responsibility. However, the states said it was not possible to implement this on a large scale unless the Centre allocates funds," he said.
These activists said the government not only reneged on its pre-poll promise of 50 per cent profit on input cost of agricultural produce but also brought down the routine annual increment in the MSP.
"The BJP-led government has tried to wash its hands off drought-relief efforts. It has also diluted different environment laws protecting 'adivasis', besides regulating livestock markets, which dealt a severe blow to farmers," Yadav said.
The government had stopped releasing funds for the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS), which would aggravate rural distress, these activists said.
They demanded the government should implement MSP for all agricultural produce, including milk and eggs.
"Also, the MSP for the existing produce under the MSP system should be increased. The government should declare debt-relief package, and form statutory Farmers' Income Commission to ensure basic living income to farmers," said Avik Saha of Jai Kisan Andolan.
--IANS
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First Published: Jan 30 2018 | 8:44 PM IST

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