Scheduled Castes can buy cows with 50 p.c. subsidy; STs get 70 p.c.

An animal husbandry scheme, primarily to serve the interests of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes, the landless people and the agricultural labourers, which was enunciated in 2007-08 and yet to be implemented, has now come to light and orders have since been issued to the primary agricultural cooperative societies, the district cooperative banks and the Karnataka Milk Federation to implement the funding programme immediately. Action will be initiated against those who fail to comply with the directions of the government.

Minister for Cooperation B.J. Puttaswamy, during a review meeting here on Wednesday, reprimanded the officials concerned and directed that a circular be issued. Under the programme, Scheduled Castes are eligible to purchase cows with a 50 per cent subsidy while for the Scheduled Tribes, a 70 per cent subsidy is provided.

The beneficiaries are eligible for a loan not exceeding Rs. 70,000 (finalised in 2007) and now, it is being raised to Rs. 1 lakh given the increase in the cost of milch animals.

Briefing presspersons after the meeting, Mr. Puttaswamy said that for the benefit of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes, loans would be provided for the margin money required. A family can procure not more than two cows under the scheme. Further, the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes cooperative societies promoted under the scheme in the Hyderabad-Karnatak region will be eligible for a government grant to form cooperative societies.

The Hyderabad-Karnataka region contributes only 20 per cent of the milk produced in the State, while over 50 per cent per cent of the milk production is from the southern districts.

Waiver

On the farm loan waiver scheme announced by the government nearly three months ago, following drought in 140 taluks of the State, the Cooperation Minister said that while the requisite funds for the waiver (estimated at Rs. 3,500 crore) has been set apart by Finance Department, the district cooperative banks were yet to submit the reimbursement bill.

A ceiling of Rs. 25,000 on the farm loan amount that is set to be waived is directly handled by the primary agricultural cooperative societies which, in turn, have to obtain a reimbursement from the district cooperative banks.

He said that of the subsidised crop loans being provided by the government, changes have been introduced to ensure that the small and poor farmers benefit the most. Further, steps have been taken to provide loans with a preference to new applicants (at least 25 per cent). The zero per cent interest farm loan (with a ceiling of Rs. 1 lakh) has been provided to 7.45 lakh farmers in this financial year and the gross outgo was Rs. 2,346 crore.

It is expected that nearly 19 lakh farmers will seek farm loans totalling nearly Rs. 6,500 crore.

In the last financial year, farm loans were disbursed to 17 lakh farmers and involved an amount of Rs. 5,600 crore. For being eligible to obtain fresh loans, farmers have to necessarily repay the loans obtained. The rate of recovery is around 98 per cent. Apart from the zero per cent interest farm loans, the farmers are eligible for loans up to Rs. 3 lakh at an interest rate of three per cent.

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