BENGALURU: For farmers who have seen their fortunes ebb due to drought over the past few years, the State budget failed to meet the expectations. Though initiatives to encourage judicious use of water, achieving self-sufficiency in production of Foot and Mouth Disease vaccine and others has been introduced, critics believe that such schemes would do too little to provide any relief for agricuture and allied sectors. Ryot organisations, whose primary demand has been loan waiver of farmers, too aren't happy with the budget.
The standalone allocation for agriculture and allied sectors - horticulture, sericulture, animal husbandry and fisheries - was 4.91 per cent of the total budget. Since, a large portion of the funds is set aside to continue the existing welfare schemes, the budget has little to offer in terms of new initiatives. 'New Schemes' listed in the agriculture sector of the budget includes expanding Krishi Bhagya scheme to parts of Malnad and coastal districts of the State, expanding the existing Krishi Yantradhare Programme to 250 more centres and incentives for adoption of technology in farming.
The proposal to start a 'Cashew Development Board' raises questions on the novelty of the project, as a Karnataka Cashew Development Corporation Limited, a State government enterprise, was already in place.
Some initiatives under animal husbandry, such as constructing modern abattoirs at each revenue division and subsidies to modernise meat stalls, aim at improving sanitation.
Reacting to the budget, Badagalapura Nagendra, general secretary of Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha termed it as 'totally hopeless'. "Expectations of ensuring income guarantee to farmers has not been fulfilled, while the State is keen on revising the pay of government employees via the seventh pay commission. The budget is not visionary and has an unequal allocation of funds to urban areas," he said.
Kurabur Shantakumar, president of Karnataka State Sugarcane Growers Association, said that despite the large number of farmer suicides, the State has ignored the plight of farmers. Hopes of loan waiver too has not been realised," he added.
The cautious allocation of funds - reflected in less new projects, while existing old ones - is also observed in funds sanctioned to water resources and minor irrigation. Of the Rs 18,028 crore (Rs 15,929 cr for Water resources and Rs 2,099 cr for minor irrigation), only 3,789 crore is for new projects. The projects are similar to the ones taken up by the State - in the form of repairing canals and rejuvenating water bodies.