Good news: Rajasthan farmers end protest

Jaipur: In what can be termed as a good news, farmers in Sikar and the adjoining districts of the Shekhawati region of Rajasthan called off an 13-day agitation after Wednesday midnight when the state government agreed to waive debts up to Rs 50,000 and to appoint a committee to study its implementation.

Happy with the development, the Rajasthan government said in a statement that the committee would submit its report in a month after studying the process of loan waivers in Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Punjab, Kerala and other states.

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The talks had remained inconclusive on Tuesday as farmer leaders were unwilling to compromise on the debt waiver. They said farmers in the region had a cumulative debt of Rs 39,500 crore as of September 2016. At the end of Wednesday’s meeting between the CPI(M)’s All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) and a group of Rajasthan ministers, lasting nearly 11 hours, AIKS chief Amra Ram asked the farmers to call off the stir.

Coming to the official side of things, Agriculture Minister Prabhu Lal Saini, Water Resources Minister Rampratap, Co-operative and Gaupalan Minister Ajay Pratap as well as Minister of State for Energy Pushpendra Singh, and BJP state president Ashok Parnami were present in the meeting, apart from 11 members of a delegation led by Amra Ram.

“We are happy that for the first time the government has agreed to waive debts up to Rs 50,000. And they have said farmers will also be represented in the committee which will be set up to study its implementation,” Ram said.

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It is worthwhile pointing out that the government has already disclosed that it would write to the Centre for a change in the MSP rates, and that it will open khareed kendras this week to purchase kharif crops. The farmers had also been seeking withdrawal of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Regulation of Livestock Markets) Rules, 2017, that they said hindered transport of cattle.

On the demand to tackle the menace of stray cattle that graze on farmland, the government said it had, on a pilot basis, started a grant to build fences. The farmer leaders had also alleged that cooperatives were declining loans, to which the government said that during the incumbent government, debt free loans to the tune of Rs 57,000 crore have been granted, while it was only Rs 24.87 crore in the corresponding period of the previous state government.