Mumbai: “The Modi government promised to double the income of farmers. But in fact, it was the deaths of farmers that doubled in all these years, not the income,” was the caustic reaction of farmer Santosh Arsod. He lives in the Aajantela village in Yavatmal district, dubbed the ‘farmer suicide’ capital of India.
“During the election campaign, Modi promised to fix agricultural prices so that we would earn a fair remuneration after deducting input costs. But the prices have not been revised as promised. We could not even recover our input costs, forget profit. Every year, Modi’s Budget promises to doubling our income, but it is only the deaths of farmers which have doubled,” Arsod slammed the government, speaking to ‘The Free Press Journal’.
“If you are promising to double income by 2022, there should have been some growth in income in the last five years. But nothing happened. This year, the budget has no concrete announcements and plans for the income growth of farmers,” he said. “Kisan Railway is another mockery of farmers. First, put the farming sector on track. Will this carry our dead bodies?” he asked, enraged.
Reacting to the proposal of installing solar agricultural pumps, he said, key beneficial schemes for farmers are always pocketed by a few powerful and rich farmers.
“While government officials enjoy air-conditioning in their offices, farmers do not get power to run their pumps on farms in the day. We are asked to work on our farms at night, risking our lives. Instead, the government should supply power to farmers for at least eight hours in the day,” he demanded.
“The government should table a separate agriculture budget before the start of sowing season, so that we farmers can plan our cropping accordingly,” he suggested.
Scrap anti-farmer laws
“While campaigning for the 2014 Lok Sabha election, Narendra Modi had promised to scrap anti-farmer laws. We were hoping that he would scrap the anti-farmer laws like the Essential Commodities Act, the Land Ceiling and Land Acquisition Acts. The Supreme Court has asked the Modi government to take a call on this in the next six months. But there is no mention of this proposal in the Budget. If these acts are scrapped, in the future, farmers will not need loans and can compete on their own in the market,” Arsod said.