SHRIMATI MEIRA KUMAR (CONTD.): Prof. Kurien had suggested that the SC converts of Christianity and Islam should also be included in the SC List of the Constitution. I wish to say that presently this issue is being examined by the National Commission for Religious and Linguistic Minorities. Probably Prof. Kurien is not here, but I am bringing it on record.
Shri Sabharwal had said that there
should be sub-categorisation in Scheduled Castes. A commission has recently
been set up to examine this with respect to the State of
(PROF. P.J. KURIEN in the Chair)
Mr. Jothi had said that if a non-Scheduled Caste person marries a Scheduled Caste person, he should be suitably rewarded. So, I just want to point out that under the PCR Act and the PO Act, we have a scheme of giving incentive to those who have inter-caste marriages and early this year, in February, I have written to all the Chief Ministers to enhance this incentive amount to Rs. 50,000.
Shrimati Prabha Thakur, Shri M.S. Gill, Shri Natchiappan, Shri Surendra Lath, Shri Matilal Sarkar, Shri Ramdeo Bhandary, Anusuyaji and Shri Santosh Bagrodia have also expressed their concerns about the education, employment and welfare of SCs and STs. I want to tell them that the UPA Government is doing a great deal for SCs and STs in the field of education and other spheres. Welfare of SCs and STs is uppermost in our mind and we have a number of schemes, which my Ministry, or Mr. Kyndiah's Ministry of Tribal Affairs, are implementing directly or with the help of the States and U.T. Governments.
Now, I come to
the main issue of the Private Member Bill, which Mr. Condpan
has introduced, the issue of amending articles 341 and 342. Presently, the SCs
and STs status is
SHRIMATI MEIRA KUMAR (CONTD.): The first thing I want to point out is that as per the
provisions of these two articles, the President has to specify the Scheduled
Castes and Scheduled Tribes in a State, and he consults the Governor of the
concerned State and the Administrator of the Union Territory to ascertain if a
particular community is suffering from untouchability,
in case of Scheduled Castes, or, a particular tribal community is living in
isolation, is going shy, and is suffering from geographical discrimination and
aloofness. So, he consults the Governor. Now, if we have to make this uniform
for the whole country -- the recommendation of the Governor of that State
cannot be applied to another State by the President of India -- there will be
this difficulty. Apart from that, we must keep in mind that ours is a very vast
country. We have so many different States and
(Contd. by 2f/kls)
SHRIMATI MEIRA KUMAR (CONTD): Mr. Condpan has rightly pointed out the difficulties faced by
the tea tribes of
SHRI SILVIUS CONDPAN (
THE VICE-CHAIRMAN (PROF. P.J. KURIEN): Hon. Minister, do you want to react or say something?
SHRIMATI MEIRA KUMAR: Sir, I have said what I had to say.
THE VICE-CHAIRMAN: Mr. Condpan, are you withdrawing your Bill? ...(Interruptions)... Are you withdrawing your Bill?
SHRI SILVIUS CONDPAN: Sir, I just wanted a little assurance from the hon. Minister with regard to the point that I have raised. I have put a clarification. The question of withdrawing is not difficult. I want a little more clarification than what the hon. Minister has given. I am not adamant not to withdraw this Bill.
SHRIMATI MEIRA KUMAR: Sir, actually I have said all that he wanted in my reply on 11th August. I had specifically mentioned all these tribes that he has mentioned.
(Contd by 2G)
SHRIMATI MEIRA KUMAR (CONTD.): I
come to the particular question of granting ST status to Koch Rajbangshi, Tai, Ahom, Chutia, Moran, Matak communities
of tea gardens and ex-tea garden tribes.
Now I had also clarified in my reply on that day. That is why I was just ending since all these
were referred. You see there is a
certain system. When the State sends the
proposal to my Ministry, actually, it is not my Ministry also because you have
asked for granting them tribal status, ST status. So, it goes to the Ministry of Tribal
Affairs. However, the procedure is,
after we have received all the ethnographic details, then we send it to the Registrar
THE VICE-CHAIRMAN (PROF. P. J. KURIAN): Mr. Condpan, she has assured that she will look into this.
SHRI SILVIUS CONDPAN: If the assurance is given to me that the matter will be referred to the Tribal Affairs Ministry for proper examination by the Government then I beg to withdraw my Bill and I thank all the Members who have participated in this Bill.
The Bill was, by leave, withdrawn.
THE AGRICULTURAL PRODUCE (REMUNERATIVE PRICES) BILL, 2006
SHRI V. NARAYANASAMY (
That the Bill to provide for ensuring remunerative prices for the agricultural produce of the farmers by way of fixation of minimum support price, compulsory market intervention by such Governmental agencies in cases of bumper crops and for the establishment of an autonomous Board for the purposes and for matters connected therewith and incidental thereto, be taken into consideration.
Mr. Vice-Chairman, I thank you for giving me this opportunity not only to introduce but also to discuss The Agricultural Produce (Remunerative Prices) Bill, 2006. Sir, in this country we know more than 80 per cent of the population is engaged in agriculture.
(Contd. by NBR/2H)
SHRI V. NARAYANASAMY (CONTD.): We have been telling -- whether it is the Central Government or the State Governments -- that we would like to improve the living conditions of the farming community. We will provide all facilities to farmers, whether it is quality seeds, fertilizer, irrigation facilities, uninterrupted power supply for irrigation or remunerative prices. We also say, when there is necessity, the Government will go in for market intervention to save the farming community. On the one hand, the Government is announcing the schemes and on the other we find that the farmers are committing suicides! Whatever be the measures that we are taking, I would say that they are not reaching to the farmers. In fact, either the middlemen or the traders have become the beneficiaries at the cost of farmers who are toiling to get the produce. We say that he is the backbone of the economy. But, everybody forgets the farmer. Therefore, it has become necessary for me to bring the Agricultural Produce (Remunerative Prices) Bill, 2006, before the House for its consideration.
Sir, there are lot of lacunae while fixing the remunerative prices. The remunerative prices are fixed by the Government at the time of harvest. The Commission for Agriculture Costs and Prices fixes the MSP for various produce of farmers. It has been doing it every year. What happens after that? After the Government fixes the rate, funds have to be passed on to the States. But, it takes a minimum of one year to reach the States, whether it is the case of sugarcane or edible oil or wheat or paddy. I have information that the MSP fixed by the Central Government is not paid to the farmers in some States even after two years, especially to sugarcane growers. Under these circumstances, now, the farmers are either stopping cultivation since it is not remunerative for them or reducing their holdings or migrating to towns and cities for their livelihood. Now, we find, this year 2006-07, the Government was forced to import wheat. When we import wheat, we are paying Rs. 1,250 per metric tonne and if you look at our remunerative price, it is not more than between Rs. 800 and Rs. 1,100!
are also importing pulses. We have been
importing edible oil. What is the reason
for short-fall? Rightly, the hon.
Agriculture Minister and also the hon. Prime Minister fixed a target that by
2010 the Government will have a bumper crop of 420 MMT. Now, we are having only 210 MMT. On the one hand, there is a growth in
population and urbanisation and, on the other, there is shrinking of
agriculture land. Sir, since farmers are
not getting profit, they are forced to commit suicide. Even the cotton growers in Andhra Pradesh and
V. NARAYANASAMY (CONTD.): They are not getting the required yield because the Green
Revolution took place about 15 years back, and, thereafter, a lot of
technological innovations have occurred.
But, the farmers are not able to use those innovations. Therefore, they are not getting a better
yield. So, there are very cumulative
aspects. You also come from the rural
area. You know Kerela
is very sensitive as far as agricultural is concerned, and not only agriculture
but horticulture, floriculture, rubber production, cardamom production, paper
production, coconut production also. The
farmers are suffering there. They are
making distress sales. In Tamil Nadu, the same situation is with paddy. In most of the paddy-cultivating states, we
find that the farmers are making distress sales. If you go through the figures, the
procurement that has been made is like this:
from Punjab alone, the procurement was 63 per cent; from Haryana the procurement was 62 per cent of the total production;
from Rajasthan it is 11 per cent; from Jharkhand, it
is 12 per cent; from Bihar, it is 19 per cent; from Assam, it is 22 per cent;
from Maharashtra, it is 28 per cent. But from the paddy-producing States in the
Even in the last session, we had discussed the farmers' issue. Hon. Agriculture Minister, Shri Sharad Pawar, had given an elaborate reply. Today, the cost of cultivation has increased. The prices of seeds, fertilizers, etc. have gone up. Sir, the hon. Minister comes from Madhya Pradesh. In Madhya Pradesh, the farmers do not get even proper fertilizers. That is my report. We don't have perennial rivers for irrigation. In most of the States we have got only lift irrigation system. After all these things, when the farmers go to a market, the prices of their commodities, whether it is paddy or wheat or pulses or groundnut, are fixed by the market intervention, fixed by the business community, fixed by the middlemen because they have got money at their hand. And, since the farmers need money, they have to sell their produce at a lower price. Therefore, I brought this Bill. In this Bill, I have specifically mentioned that the Government has to constitute a National Agricultural Produce Remunerative Prices Fixation Board. The Commodities Price Fixation Committee, which has been constituted by the Government of India, fixes the prices only after August. So, the farmers are at the mercy of the Committee. We want that the prices should be fixed at the time of sowing itself. Even in the case of soyabean, the situation is same. The remunerative prices for soyabean have not been announced in Madhya Pradesh. I want that this Board should be constituted with a Chairperson and a Deputy Chairperson, with the qualifications in the field of agriculture, or, with an agricultural background. And, they should be appointed by the Government of India. (Contd. by 2k -- VP)
SHRI V. NARAYANASAMY (CONTD.): Then, Sir, five members are to be appointed by the Central Government in consultation with the State Governments. They will represent the Governments of the States. Then, Sir, one Member each, representing the Union Ministries of Agriculture and Fertilizers, is to be appointed by the Government of India. One member representing the Indian Council of Agricultural Research is to be appointed. Three members are to be appointed by the Central Government from amongst the farmers representing the four regions of the country; East, West, South and Northern regions. There should be three Members of Parliament on this Board; two from the Lok Sabha and one from the Rajya Sabha. The term of office and all other things should be prescribed as per the rules. Then, Sir, it should have zonal offices also throughout the country.
Sir, the functions have been defined in clause 4. In clause 4, it is specifically mentioned: "The Board shall discharge the following functions, namely, fix and declare remunerative prices of agricultural produce before every sowing season." I repeat, 'before every sowing season.' Sir, the Commodity Board has now been constituted for fixing the minimum support price. That meets only at the time of the harvest. Therefore, I have said that the farmers should decide which crop they sow. It is also stated: "Fix and declare remunerative price of agricultural produce before every sowing season so as to ensure that farmers do get remunerative prices for their produce."
Sir, there is another thing which I want to say. Now, the Government of India is fixing the
minimum support price. For wheat, they
say, "We are fixing Rs. 700/-." They fix Rs.
700/-. The cost of cultivation for
farmers varies from region to region. In
V. NARAYANASAMY (CONTD.): Suicides by farmers are taking place because
they are not getting the required yield from their agricultural land. And, after making so much of investment when
they do not get it, when they are indebted, they are forced to commit
suicides. That is why, Sir, several
packages have been announced by the Government of India-- Maharashtra
packages have been announced, Andhra Pradesh packages have been announced,
etc. The hon. Prime Minister is very
much concerned about the farmers' problems.
The UPA Government is also very much concerned about the farmers'
issues. They are taking all possible steps.
Sir, unless and until farmer gets remunerative price for his produce,
this perennial problem will continue.
For that, Sir, this Bill is going to, definitely, help the farming community. Farmers will come to know at the time of
sowing season that this is the money they are going to get for one tonne of
paddy, or, for
SHRI V. NARAYANASAMY (CONTD.): Therefore, Sir, I requested the Finance Minister to have a monitoring committee at the district level and also at the State level, having important farming community people and also the persons from the public life as its representatives. The Finance Minister said that the Government will take care of it. Now, Sir, as Members of Parliament and public representatives, we are getting complaints that when the farmers go for loan, even if they produce the requisite documents, they are not getting it. They are not getting adequate loan facility from the banks. Yes; cooperative institutions are there, the village cooperative societies are there, the cooperative credit societies are there; they are providing loans. Gramin banks are there; they are providing loans. But, I am talking about the nationalised banks. The nationalised banks are not providing loans to farmers whenever they are in need of it. However, if any industrialist goes there, they are prepared to give any amount, crores of rupees, as loan to him and if the man doesn't pay, it becomes a bad debt. Nobody is bothered about it. But if a farmer wants to seek a loan of only fifty thousand rupees or one lakh rupees for creating an asset or for some agriculture facility, he is not being provided the loan. The hon. Finance Minister has to look at this area. We also said that if the kind of support that the Central Government is giving properly goes to the farmers, there will not be any farmer's suicide in this country. But, unfortunately, when the farmer applies for the loan and when the loan is given after three months or six months, it becomes infructuous. They are not going to spend the money. The money is being diverted by the farmers thereafter. So, any outcome is not there. Therefore, Sir, I want them to consider this area.
Then, there is a need of supporting the farmers. Apart from providing them the other facilities, the livestock support is also required to be provided, for example, providing them milch animals like goats, etc. For that some provision has to be made. Sir, in villages, the female members of the family are supporting the family. They take care of those milch animals, and these milch animals are supporting the farmers' families. This will all solve the problems of the major farmers issues.
Then, Sir, they have to strengthen the
cooperative institutions. The hon.
Agriculture Minister has made it very clear in this august House and also in
the public that the Government is going to strengthen the cooperative
institutions. Unless and until the cooperative institutions in several States
like in Maharashtra, in
Sir, another area of concern is the
Government's investment in irrigation.
The Government's investment in irrigation has to be increased. Sir, we have plenty of rivers. We have enough water supply.
(Contd. by 2n)
SHRI V. NARAYANASAMY (CONTD.): Sir, as a
result of it, with whatever minimum support price the Government gives, the
farmer will be able to sustain himself. Therefore, I want the hon. Minister to
look into that area. If the present trend continues, then there will be a
problem of food security in this country;
What are the reasons for the price rise? Such a hue and cry has been made by hon. Members from the other side about it. The farmers have been ignored and, therefore, there is shortage of production. The demand and supply position has not been met and, therefore, the prices have gone up. So, I want the hon. Minister to consider this; to increase the production, a second Green Revolution is a must.
Sir, another area, which I would like the
hon. Minister to give his consideration to, is the application of inventions in
science and technology to agriculture. A lot of inventions have been made.
Secondly, we have not taken care of the farming community's requirements. Though I do not subscribe to the theory of giving subsidies to farmers on a large scale, I do feel that earlier the subsidies that the farmers were getting as seed subsidy and fertilizer subsidy were working well. But some people in the fertilizer industry mishandled the issue. There was a lot of mishandling and the subsidy was removed; as a matter of policy also, the Government took a decision that because of economic reforms we need to review the situation. But even then, farmers were taking this advantage during Indiraji's time and also when Rajiv Gandhi was the Prime Minister. Therefore, Sir, when we go through the entire gamut of farmers' issues, we find that unless and until we concentrate more on farmers' problems, only for the purpose of advertising and giving publicity, saying that we are with the farmers is not going to help us. Let us be very practical. I am talking about the investment made by political parties, not this party or that party; every political party has been exploiting the farmers and we are not doing anything for the farmers. In every Budget we say that we have allocated this much money for the farming community, but hon. Minister, Sir, practically speaking, farmers are not being allotted that much money. But, if you go through the Budget, we find that to industries, trade and commerce we are allocating more money. On other areas, too such as social welfare schemes, education, health, sanitation etc. we need to spend a lot of money; we agree on that too. Even then, farmers, who are the backbone of this country, who are to be provided with the necessary infrastructure and who constitute 80 per cent of the population, have been ignored. On the one side, when industrial revolution is taking place, there should be a revolution on the agricultural side also. (Contd. by 2o/hk)
SHRI V. NARAYANASAMY (CONTD.): Hon. Minister, let me say one thing, which I have told to our State Agriculture Department also. The contribution of our agricultural graduates in increasing the agricultural production in various States has to be properly utilised. But what is happening? They are sitting in the office and are doing table work. They are not doing the field work. Agricultural graduates and scientists have become bureaucrats. They should not become bureaucrats. They should do the field work. These are various lacunae in our country. Since farmers have got the will power, they have been sustaining themselves. The minimum support, which they need is the good income for their products. Therefore, the farmers need remunerative prices. The hon. Minister is also coming from the agricultural background. He fully knows the problems of farmers. In a vast country like ours, unless and until we take all the possible steps, we will not be able to increase the production. We have to depend upon imports only and our lot of money and foreign exchange will go out of the country. Therefore, our concentration should especially be on paddy, wheat, pulses, edible oils, sugarcane and other items. In all these, the Government support should be given to the farming community. Sir, since this august House is very much concerned about the farmers' problems, I request the hon. Members of this House to utilise this opportunity and raise the farmers' problems, especially about the remunerative prices to farmers. I have taken this opportunity to raise some of the points, which I mentioned here. I want the support of this august House in this matter. Thank you. Sir. (Ends)
The question was proposed.
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