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`Pro-farmer' budget will resolve many issues, says Kumaraswamy

Special Correspondent

New policies to be unveiled and allocation for agriculture enhanced



SEEKING ADVICE: Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy greeting noted agricultural scientist M.S. Swaminathan at a meeting with representatives of farmers in Bangalore on Saturday. Revenue Minister Jagadish Shettar looks on. — Photo: V. Sreenivasa Mu rthy

BANGALORE: The Government on Saturday said the budget for 2006-07 will be pro-farmer. New policies will be unveiled and allocation for agricultural, horticultural and animal husbandry activities enhanced.

Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy made these announcements after a two-hour meeting with representatives of the Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha (KRRS) and officials of various departments. Deputy Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa, noted agricultural scientist and Chairman of National Commission on Farmers M.S. Swaminathan and several Ministers were present.

The Chief Minister said officials of Karnataka Power Transmission Corporation Ltd. (KPTCL) and all electricity supply companies (ESCOMs) have been instructed not to disconnect power supply to irrigation pumpsets even if the farmers delay the payment of bills. However, he did not give any assurance on supplying free power to farmers. The Centre's response is negative towards the decision of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh governments to give free power to farmers, he said.

Demands

Responding to the 31 demands of KRRS, Mr. Kumaraswamy said the budget will provide answers to at least 40 per cent of them. Issues such as disbursement of loans at a lower rate of interest, hike in procurement prices, increase in subsidy for construction of houses under the Ashraya Scheme, subsidy for drip irrigation, manufacture and sale of "neera" products and water charges will be discussed with officials concerned. After the issues are discussed with officials, he will hold another round of meeting with leaders of farmers, Mr. Kumaraswamy said. There will be higher allocation for the farm sector for revival of agricultural activities and discouraging youth from migrating to cities. The Government has decided to seek Rs. 3,500 crores from the World Bank for modernising canals, he said.

Earlier, Mr. Yediyurappa said: "The Government is pro-farmer" and it will take steps to improve their lot.

Minister for Agriculture Bandeppa Kashempur, Minister for Horticulture and Fisheries B. Nagaraja Shetty, Revenue Minister Jagadish Shettar and Minister for Water Resources K.S. Eshwarappa were present.

Plea to banks

Speaking at a meet-the-press programme organised by the Press Club of Bangalore, Mr. Yediyurappa, who holds the Finance portfolio, said: "I will try to persuade the nationalised banks to offer farm loans at an interest rate of 6 per cent. I am sure we can tailor our policies to suit the banks' needs and facilitate this," Mr. Yediyurappa said.

Asked whether the State budget will offer relief to Bangaloreans who pay the highest rates in the country for petrol and diesel, Mr. Yediyurappa said he will ensure that the burden on citizens who pay the highest sales tax in the country is not increased.

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