Injustice within Injustice to Telangana Farmers

A Case study of Allocation  of 2012-13 Crop Loans

By Dr. Nishanth Dongari

The discrimination against the Telangana region is continuing in spite of the ongoing agitation for the formation of Telangana state and no steps are taken rectify the old “mistakes”.

The saga of injustice to Telangana region is never ending and this time it is in the allocation of different crop loans. Since decades, the pattern is the same: denial, deprivation and diversion. Based on cultivation area, Telangana should get 39.44% of the state’s budget allocations. But at no point did its allocation exceed 25 percent and yet Telangana contributes 42 percent of revenue to the state Agriculture exchequer, which conveys that agriculture in Telangana is high cost growth, which is less sustainable in the long run.

Crop loans distributed in Andhra Pradesh during 2012-13 were Rs. 50,105 cr. West Godavari, East Godavari, Krishna and Guntur districts, which have 18.48% net cultivated area in the state, got 36% of the overall allocated loan. They were also beneficiaries of 47.62% interest free loans and 30.20% pavala vaddi (4% interest) loans. All Telangana (9) districts, which together have 39.63% net cultivated area, get a paltry 27.10% credit, 15.24% interest free loans, and 22.98% pavala vaddi (4% interest loans). Mahaboobnagar, Adilabad, Medak and Nizamabad which have 21% of cultivated area, have not got anything under interest free loans category.

For the district of Hyderabad, which had a target of giving 1.3 cr crop loans during 2012-13, the actual loan granted by the government was Rs. 434.18 cr that is 33,398.46% higher. One can easily understand whose pockets this extra money of Rs 400+ cr is going to fill as there are no agricultural lands in the Hyderabad district (is different from greater Hyderabad) and that too on the name of aiding Telangana region.

How can this disparity be justified for a region with all 9 districts being announced as backward by the central government? The Andhra rulers have never learned any lesson from multiple agitations in Telangana and continuously deny the fair share to Telangana farmers. Even among the resources allocated to the Telangana region, a major chunk of these resources go to the Andhra settlers in the Telangana region, be it loans and/or disbursement of crop insurance payments. The reality of macro level injustice compounded and multiplied by micro and local level injustice in the Telangana region.

From 1997 to 2010, according to Andhra Pradesh government official statistics, a total of 5200 farmers committed suicide due to drought conditions, out of which around 3400 are from Telangana, i.e. 65%. One might be wondering the connection between farmers’ suicides to the crop loans issue. If farmers are denied government loans of no or low interest and they will obviously opt for private loans, with higher interest rate. Every year, 82% of farmers are depending on private loans in Telangana region, which they need to pay back in short term period. Another aspect that amplifies the amount of private loan taken by farmers in Telangana is that they depend mostly on well/borewell irrigation which is becoming prohibitively expensive day by day. With little help from successive Andhra biased governments, extreme burden of private loans, coupled with lack of canal irrigation, is culminating in increasing suicides of farmers in Telangana.

The problem is made worse as the conventional macro irrigation is underdeveloped and the traditional micro irrigation under lakes and ponds has been totally neglected by the Andhra rulers. Only a copious monsoon can assure the farmers of at least three months of wages. Or else, they leave their hearths and homes, and migrate to distant cities in search of livelihood. This has significantly reduced the crop yield in 6 out of 9 districts in Telangana (Nalgonda, Khammam, Adilabad, Medak, Warangal and Mahaboobnagar). For example, paddy crop yield in 1980’s was around 24 quintals/acre, in 1990’s 18 quintals/acre and in 2000’s it has been reduced to 14-15 quintals/acre.

All these factors have led to huge decline in total cropped and irrigated area in Telangana, and Mahaboobnagar topping the list in both the net sown area (17.5%) and net irrigated area (4%). This is not a random phenomenon and indeed it is a well planned structural violence by Andhra rulers on the Telangana region. This stems from the fact that if farmers desert agriculture profession and migrate to cities for labour work, then those lands either encroached upon by the henchmen of Andhra politicians or bought for very cheap rate by Andhra real estate mafia. This has been successfully implemented in neighbourhood districts of the capital city: Ranga Reddy, Mahaboobnagar, Nalgonda and Medak, and the same pattern is slowly spreading to rest of the Telangana.

It is high time that Telangana people should recognize the importance of electing politicians who are 100% committed for the aspirations of people from this region and their political parties have no agenda other than Telangana, Telangana and Telangana. In fact prior to 2004, allocations for Telangana region are far more worse than above figures and whatever the little is happening is merely because of the ongoing agitation and indeed some “Telangana” politicians being vocal in the assembly.

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