`Farmers confused over interest waiver'

MADIKERI Jan. 3. M.C. Nanaiah, MLC, on Friday, criticised the Union and the State governments for issuing "confusing" statements on the waiver of interest on loans availed by farmers during the current year.

He was addressing a gathering here after being felicitated at a function organised by the Kodagu District Cooperative Union and the cooperative societies in the district, on being conferred the Sahakara Ratna Award by the Indian Farmers Fertiliser Cooperative (IFFCO). Mr. Nanaiah and the former Union Minister, Ramnivas Mirdha, received the award in New Delhi recently. The President of the union, M.P. Muthappa, felicitated Mr. Nanaiah.

Mr. Nanaiah said the State Government had said it had waived interests on loans of farmers during 2002-03, amounting to Rs. 127 crore, but the money had not reached the cooperative institutions. The Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee, had stated that interests on loans for the current year would be waived in 14 drought-affected States. Kodagu had not been declared drought hit. Farmers were a confused lot, and the exact position must be clarified by the governments.

Mr. Nanaiah appealed to them to help poor farmers. Citing an example in the district, he asked the officials not to harass farmers while recovering loans from them.

Mr. Nanaiah said the cooperative sector had not performed as expected owing to lack of leadership. In Kodagu, the sector had developed considerably, thanks to the strong edifice laid by the co-operative leaders of the past such as Pandyanda Belliappa, Pandikuthira Chengappa, Chiriyapanda Kushalappa, Varadaraja Shetty, Lakshmana Shetty, I.C.Subbaiah, and others. In the past, private and commercial banks catered only to the needs of the rich, whereas the poor and middle class people, particularly from rural areas, had to depend on the cooperative sector for meeting their financial needs. The situation had now changed.

The President of the Kodagu District Cooperative Central (KDCC) Bank, M.A. Ramesh, was felicitated on the occasion by A.K. Mandanna, Vice-President of the union. The bank had won national awards on three successive years, including last year. Mr. Ramesh attributed the honour accorded to him to teamwork. The President of the Karnataka State Cooperatives' Federation, G.T. Deve Gowda, lauded the contribution of Mr. Nanaiah to the growth of the cooperative sector in the State. Mr. Muthappa welcomed the gathering.

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