Fall in arecanut prices causing distress to farmers

The government on Wednesday relented to the Opposition’s demand in the Legislative Council asking for a reply from the Chief Minister on whether he would offer an economic package to arecanut growers in view of the ban on gutka.

Even though Minister for Health and Family Welfare U.T. Khader replied that the ban was long-pending and the Congress government had taken a tough decision in the interest of public health, the Opposition insisted on a reply from the Chief Minister as it was concerned by the falling prices of arecanut after the ban.

The discussion was taken on a motion by Leader of the Opposition D.V. Sadananda Gowda who said though everyone welcomed the ban, the measure had adversely impacted the growers. This is the time when farmers repay their loans and avail fresh crop loans, so the price reduction has crippled their finances, he said.

He demanded waiver of arecanut growers’ loans and sanctioning of fresh loans with zero per cent interest as well as other sops. He sought a scheme for the livelihood of petty vendors and gutka factory workers. Leader of the House S.R. Patil promised the Chief Minister would make a statement on Thursday if necessary. The debate remained inconclusive and the House was adjourned.

Earlier, initiating the debate, Mr. Sadananda Gowda described it a “death knell” for arecanut growers and maintained that the government should have banned cigarettes first if it had genuine concern towards protecting the health of the people.

‘Deadline on June 25’

Pointing out that the Supreme Court had given a deadline of June 25 to ban gutka, he wondered why the government issued the notification on the ban “in a hurry” without holding consultations.

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