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PM assures farmers of help

By Our Special Correspondent

(MAHBUBNAGAR DT.), JULY 1. In a moving gesture aimed at boosting the sagging morale of the farming community in Andhra Pradesh, the Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, interacted and consoled the families of ryots, who committed suicide, unable to repay mounting debts and assured them that the Central and State Governments would extend all possible help to mitigate their suffering.

After interacting with the families, Dr. Manmohan Singh announced an additional Rs. 50,000 from the Prime Minister's Relief Fund to each family of the farmers who ended their lives, in addition to the Rs. 1.5 lakh package announced by the State Government to rehabilitate them. He also said that the banks would be instructed to provide assistance to enable a member from each bereaved family to gain employment.

Touching scenes were witnessed when the Prime Minister, accompanied by the Chief Minister ,Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy, stepped down from the podium and entered the enclosure in which the families of 13 farmers, who committed suicide in Mahbubnagar district since the new Government assumed office, were seated in a specially-erected pandal.

The Prime Minister distributed cheques for an amount of Rs. 1.50 lakhs to each of the bereaved family members sanctioned under the State Government scheme. Kashamma with whom Dr. Singh first interacted broke down and fell at his feet after the Chief Minister told her that the Prime Minister was sanctioning her a house and an additional Rs. 50,000. As she described her woes in Telugu, the Chief Minister translated into English for the benefit of the Prime Minister, who listened intently.

Later, Dr. Singh consoled 40-year-old old Kumuramma, whose husband, Jollu Mahesh, consumed pesticide and died on May 24. She said that they sank four borewells for cultivating crops on a six-acre land. Stating that they owed the bank about Rs. 45,000, she sought help to buy cattle or sheep for eking out livelihood. Dr. Reddy promptly told her that the Prime Minister was sanctioning an additional Rs. 50,000 and she could buy cattle or sheep.

In another touching gesture, Dr. Singh stood near an elderly paralytic person, who was seated, and sought to know his problems.

The Chief Minister then stated that the Prime Minister was sanctioning an additional Rs. 50,000 to meet his health expenses.

Later addressing the gathering which included legislators and MPs from the district, functionaries of local bodies and leaders from various political parties, Dr. Singh underlined the significance of his visit to the State saying that it was first tour outside Delhi after becoming the Prime Minister. Referring to the suicide by farmers unable to repay mounting debts, he said that he came to share their grief and also to assure that the Central and the State Governments understood their problems and would extend whatever possible relief to bail them out.

Earlier, he visited a photo exhibition on the agricultural scenario of the district and interacted with the legislators and MPs of the district.

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