KARNATAKA

JD(S) to intensify agitation

Bangalore Sept. 6. The Janata Dal (Secular) has said that it will intensify its agitation seeking proper compensation to farmers. It will stage dharnas in all district headquarters on September 15. The President of the State unit of the party, Siddaramaiah, and the senior leader, P.G.R. Sindhia, told presspersons here today that the Rs. 856-crore package announced by the State Government was a "paper package" and termed it "bogus''. It would not serve the interests of farmers. What was needed was waiving the interest on farm loans and postponing recovery of loans. Short-term loans should be converted into medium-term ones, and medium-term loans into long-term ones. Cooperative banks and societies should be directed not to attach the property of farmers.

Mr. Siddaramaiah and Mr. Sindhia said the package was similar to the one announced for Bellary and Bagalkot districts. "People know that nothing concrete has emerged from such packages.''

Mr. Siddaramaiah said besides the drought, another important reason for the crop failure was lack of proper electricity supply to farm pumpsets. The Chairman of the Karnataka Electricity Regulatory Commission had pointed out that the poor supply was due to high transmission and distribution losses and power theft of 36 per cent. For every one per cent of electricity saved, the Government could net revenue of Rs. 100 crore. The Chief Minister, S.M. Krishna, and the Energy Minister did not respond to the statement of the KERC Chairman. It indicated that the Government was guilty in the matter. He said the Government had announced that the three-phase power supply to farmers would be increased to eight hours and this would lead to an additional expenditure of Rs. 980 crore. It had said that the tax and surcharge on electricity supplied to domestic consumers would be raised to meet the additional expenditure. Middle-class and lower middle-class consumers would be affected by such a taxation measure.

The former Deputy Chief Minister said the announcement in the package that Rs. 331 crore due to the Karnataka Power Transmission Corporation Ltd. (KPTCL) from farmers prior to March 31, 2001, would be waived was also "bogus''. The former Prime Minister, H.D. Deve Gowda, said the Parliamentary Board of the party would meet under the leadership of D. Manjunath to finalise the party's candidates for the byelection.

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