Thiruvananthapuram, Nov 18
The Congress party on Monday took up cudgels against the State Government for its failure to pay up paddy procurement dues to farmers and pushing them to the verge of suicide.
The Leader of Opposition Ramesh Chennithala and former Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, in separate statements, asked the Government to release Rs. 1450 crores due to the banks towards payment of the arrears related to paddy procurement.
The usual practice is for the Kerala State Civil Supplies to procure paddy and release funds to farmers through banks. After the procurement, the millers issue paddy receipt sheets (PRS) to the farmers. The farmers then present the PRS to the banks on the basis which the banks extends loan facilities to the farmers. The Government directly debits the loan and interest amounts directly to the banks on behalf of the farmers.
As a result of the Government’s failures to pay up these arrears, the banks were now invoking the provisions of the Securitisation and Reconstruction of Financial Assets and Enforcement of Securities Interest Act (SARFESI) to auction off farm lands to recover dues.
Mr. Chennithala said that a large number of farmers were facing revenue recovery proceedings as a result of this Government created crisis. It was unfortunate that this crisis should have come up especially since the farmers, particularly in Kuttanad, spread over 157 padasekharams had suffered a crop loss to the tune of Rs. 157 crores in the recent rains, he said.
Mr. Chandy said the Rs. 1450 crores arrears were related to last year’s procurement. Since the Government failed to pay up, the banks were now refusing to honour the PRS presented by the farmers. The banks have also started issuing revenue recovery notices to the paddy cultivators, he said.
He sought the Government’s intervention without further delay in order to save the otherwise harried paddy cultivator from repeated crisis.