Farmers pour out their woes to Chidambaram

MANDYA, AUG. 14. The Union Finance Minister, P. Chidambaram, on Saturday undertook a whirlwind tour of Bangalore and Mandya districts and received hundreds of petitions from farmers, students, and self-help groups with regard to problems related to bank loans.

When a large number of farmers requested the Minister to waive crop loans, Mr. Chidambaram said: "I am only looking at complaints. My purpose of the visit is to see whether the banks are lending to farmers or not."

Many farmers told the Minister that they were facing problems such as delay in release of loans, high rate of interest, and issue of no-due certificates.

There were complaints about the service provided at the Vijaya Bank branches at Maddur and Somanahalli. "Why are there so many complaints against Vijaya Bank," the Minister wondered and asked the bank executive to look into the problems of farmers.

The complaint was that Vijaya Bank branches were not rendering "proper" service to customers, particularly farmers.

The Minister, who apparently did not like the presence of photographers at the programmes, said: "it is not a programme for photographers. The photographers and cameramen are not important. The people are important. It is a serious business." The Minister asked the women to form more SHGs and avail themselves of loans from banks. He called upon the women to take up activities in sericulture, dairying, and vermiculture to become economically self-reliant. When women asked about subsidy, he said: "money is not free. If I give to you loans at zero interest, I have to tax you more." When an MBBS student complained about difficulties in taking loans from banks in Mandya, Mr. Chidambaram said the Union Government had changed the policy on education loan.

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