Seeks special package of at least Rs. 500 crore for district
`Mounting debts leading to increasing number of suicides'Call to create special export zone in the district
BIJAPUR: M.B. Patil, Congress MLA, has urged the State Government to waive loans taken by farmers in the district as many of them are in debt because of the drought that has been prevailing since 2000. In a letter to Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy, a copy of which was released to presspersons here on Wednesday, Mr. Patil suggested that a special package be announced for the district on the lines of that given to Vidarbha in Maharashtra.
He said Bijapur was famous for its horticultural crops, particularly grapes, and had once been considered the "California of India." However, around 8,000 acres of grapevines had withered over the last six years, causing losses of at least Rs. 300 crore to the farmers, he said.
Similarly, over 7,000 acres each of pomegranate and lemon crops had withered over the same period, causing losses of over Rs. 200 crore, he said. The mounting debts of farmers in banks had led to an increase in suicides among them too. He demanded that a special package of at least Rs. 500 crore be released for the district.
However, Mr. Patil said, despite the severe drought, farmers in a few pockets of the district were still able to grow export-quality fruits, including grapes and pomegranates. However, they were not getting substantial returns owing to the lack of demand for their produce in the domestic market. Also, as most of them were poor, they were not in a position to find markets for their produce overseas, he said, and urged the Government to create a special export zone in the district.
Mr. Patil said that even after the Mulwad Lift Irrigation Project had been implemented under the award of the Bachawat tribunal, a large tract of arid land that was at a higher level would remain beyond its reach. Therefore, another lift irrigation project should be launched that would be able to irrigate this land too, he said.