Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Patron Mufti Muhammad Sayeed Saturday asked the Government to announce a comprehensive debt relief package for the growers whose miseries and difficulties of the last four years have been compounded by the devastating floods.
Addressing a workers convention from Wachi assembly segment here today, Sayeed said the floods are the last straw that has broken the camel’s back as the agriculture and horticulture sectors were already reeling under recession because of decreasing returns and increasing debts.
“The floods have compounded the problems in agriculture and horticulture sectors as the deluge caused enormous losses not only in housing, trade and business sectors, but resulted in massive damage to the paddy and apple crop,” he said.
Sayeed said to compensate the losses in agriculture and horticulture sectors, the Government must formulate a comprehensive horticulture plan, aimed at getting debt relief from the centre and RBI on the loans for growers and changing the orchard pattern and structure with focus on high yielding plantation.
He also called for market intervention by the Union/State Government to ensure that the costs of conducting horticulture business, which have dramatically shot up, is subsidized for this season. “A part of the freight for transporting apples out of the state must be provided by the state. Otherwise, the sale of apples will be unviable and will cripple this key sector,” he said.
He said the agricultural Debt Waiver and Debt Relief Scheme of 2008 which hardly benefitted J&K must be run for one year in the state. “Out of the Rs 72,000 crore debt relief to farmers in the country, J&K farmers benefitted only about Rs 300 odd crores,” he said and added that extension of the Scheme for another year would make up for the injustices to the farmers and growers of the state who are now in dire straits.
He also called for providing free rations for at least one year to the farmers whose paddy crop has been destroyed by the floods.
Sayeed said, if it comes to power, PDP’s focus would be on infrastructure building in agriculture, horticulture, tourism and handicraft sectors to give a fillip to the State’s economy and create more job opportunities for the local youth by fully harnessing their enterprising skills. He said various multilateral institutions and major Indian corporates would be roped-in to build and fine-tune the infrastructure in these key sectors to achieve the desired levels of growth.
Sayeed complimented the PDP cadres for carrying forward the party’s mission of holistic development of J&K while seeking resolution of its political problems.