Virtually rejecting opposition demand for debt waiver to farmers, the government on Wednesday said Centre is continuously monitoring the drought situation and urged all parties to work together to deal with the problem.
Replying to a short duration discussion in the Lok Sabha on drought, drinking water crisis and inter-linking of rivers, Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh said the Modi-government has done a lot for the farmers in two years and this work cannot be compared with the previous government's work in 60 years.
On the opposition's demand of debt waiver to farmers, he said one of the members from Maharashtra had stated that such a scheme launched earlier have many faults.
To buttress his point, he cited a CAG report to say that Rs 271.49 crore were recovered from people who were not eligible for a debt-waiver scheme, which was to the tune of about Rs 72,000 crore.
In about 5000 cases, action was taken against bank staff and there were also instances of tampering with the records.
"The country is fortunate that a son of poor has become the Prime Minister and that is why he thinks about farmers and village," he said.
On the allegation that ministers are not visiting drought-affected areas and villages, Singh said several meetings have held in the Prime Ministers Office at highest levels with the Chief Ministers.
"This government is continuously monitoring the situation and coordinating with the states," he added.
He also asked the states to spend the amount received from the Centre for farmers on time.
Enlisting the steps taken by the government for farmers, the minister said they are targeting to cover most of the area to come under irrigation.
Under the Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sichai Yojna, he said over 300 districts have prepared their irrigation plans and rest are expected to prepare by September, he added.
"In India if you are to make the villages prosper, you have to give proper irrigation facilities to them...even after 68 years of independence, we were not able to give proper irrigation facilities to farm fields," he said.
Singh said that although he favours increase in the minimum support price but whatever is fixed that too was percolating to the farmers.
"Some states like Gujarat, Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh give 4 per cent interest subsidy to farmers, other states too think about their reponsibilities," the Agriculture Minister said.
He said the government has increased the agri loan target to Rs nine lakh crore from Rs 8.50 lakh crore in 2015-16.
When he was giving the allocation figures, Leader of Congress Mallikarjun Kharge said that "you please tell us what you are going to do...you have changed the norms then the figures automatically have increased. So please do not take credit for that. Tell us what relief you want to give. Will you visit Marathwada and other affected regions. Supreme Court too has directed you".
To this, Singh said the court has directed because in the last 68 years nothing has been done. "The Supreme Court direction is a mirror to what all you did and did not in the last 68 years," he said, hitting back at the Congress.
Giving details, he said, as per the manual drought management is responsibility of both Central and state government.
State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF) is available with states, he said, adding, the contribution of centre is 75 per cent while remaining is by states.
SDRF has been almost doubled to Rs 61,000 crore for five years upto 2020 as against about Rs 33,000 crore for the previous 5-year period.
Singh further said, the government has increased compensation to farmers affected by natural calamities.
As per the revised guidelines, he said, a farmer was eligible for compensation if 33 per cent of the crop was damaged. Earlier, the compensation was granted only if damage was 50 per cent or more.
Besides, he said, farmers having more than one hectare was also not eligible but the present government has raised this to 2 hectare or upto 5 acre.
He also said the government has tripled the compensation amount to Rs 4.5 lakh from Rs 1.5 lakh in case of death caused by natural calamities.