Vidarbha cotton farmers start stir for fresh crop loans; Mohan Dharia extends support

By Pervez Bari,

Bhopal, June 18: Hundreds of farmers of Vidarbha region in Maharashtra started their "Hallabol" agitation with "Dharna" (sit-in) today in front of the Central Bank of India, Pandharkawada branch, in Yavatmal District demanding fresh crop loans to all defaulter farmers with a loan waiver as all NABARD controlled banks refused to give fresh credit to them. 

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The Nagpur-based Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti, (VJAS), president Kishor Tiwari, who is spearheading the cause of the widows, said in a Press release that as bankers have stopped giving fresh crop loan and drop down the credit facility by 40 per cent as per NABARD order, the debt-starved cotton farmers are killing themselves. 
VJAS leader announced that the next step of agitation will be held in front of Bank of Maharashtra, Patan branch on July 2, the release added.
Tiwari said that Vidarbha farmers will continue strong protest and will not only restore credit outlay to Rs. 3, 300 crore but will have loan waiver too.
Meanwhile, veteran Gandhian leader Mohan Dharia has in a letter to VJAS supported Vidarbha cotton farmers stir for fresh credit and complete loan waiver. In fact he was on indefinite fast last year and the Maharashtra Government then had promised to fulfill his demands but later on backed out.
It  may be pointed here that after aggressive lending in the previous fiscal, the credit allocation targets set under the annual credit plan for 2007-08 for six districts of Vidarbha showed a steep decline. Incidentally, these are the districts that have been reporting maximum number of farmers' suicides and where farmers' dependence on illegal money-lenders has been one of the root causes.
Credit lending targets for six districts have been revised downwards compared to last year, as per recent decision of bankers association. In 2005-06 fiscal, banks disbursed credit of Rs. 765 crore in six districts. But thanks to the PM's package, the crop credit shot up to Rs. 2,033 crore in the last fiscal.
The current plan, however, allocates only Rs. 1,683 crore for crop credit  For instance, Yavatmal district, which has reported maximum suicides, has been earmarked a target of only Rs. 434.96 crore which is almost a 30 per cent decline from its 2006-07 target. Washim district shows a decline of 41 per cent, Akola 36 per cent and Buldhana 38 per cent, against the previous fiscal targets. District credit plans have been finalised on the basis of broad guidelines prepared by NABARD. ([email protected])