The Yeshasvini Health Insurance Scheme providing healthcare to people from economically weaker sections of society in rural areas at nominal cost will soon be extended to urban areas.

Announcing this here on Tuesday, Minister for Cooperation H.S. Mahadeva Prasad said an official decision would be taken in a day. The scheme was made available to rural masses at an annual premium of Rs. 210 through cooperative societies. While over 5 lakh people have got free surgical treatment, over 12 lakh have been treated as outpatients after the launch of the scheme, the Minister said.

Mr. Prasad said the government has been supporting the cooperative sector and, in turn, the farmers. There had been a demand for short-term crop loans worth Rs. 931 crore at concessional rates of interest — zero rate of interest up to Rs. 2 lakh — and medium-term loans up to Rs. 10 lakh at 3 per cent a year from 4.55 lakh farmers. During the last six months, the department disbursed Rs. 2,074 crore loans to 9.11 lakh farmers, the Minister said.

He said the government released Rs. 3,259.65 crore towards waiver of loans to farmers in 2012-13. While Rs. 940 crore was released during the last fiscal, Rs. 1,133.77 crore has been released so far this fiscal. The balance will also be released soon, Mr. Prasad said.

The Minister defended the Rs. 2,500- a-tonne minimum support price (MSP) for sugarcane announced by the Karnataka Sugarcane Control Board on Sunday. While the MSP is at gate (farmer should harvest and supply sugarcane to factory) for southern parts of the State, it is at field for farmers in northern parts of the State.

The MSP is based on the revenue-sharing formula suggested by the Rangarajan committee and the cost of production of sugarcane arrived at by the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices of the Union government. The commission had suggested that the cost of sugarcane production would be Rs. 2,076 per tonne.

Of the 57 sugar mills in the State, 21 have already commenced crushing of sugarcane and farmers have been delivering the produce to them, Mr. Prasad said.

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