Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Saturday announced several incentives for the six worst drought-hit districts of Maharashtra including waiver of Rs 712 crore overdue interest and rescheduling of Rs 1,300 crore agricultural credit over 3-5 years with one year moratorium.
The government would also set up an expert group in the next few days to look into the problem of rural indebtedness in its totality, he told reporters after visiting the drought hit areas of Vidharbha.
The group is expected to submit its report within three months, he said, adding that based on the recommendations, the government will take effective measures to deal with problems of farming community.
The six districts are Amaravati, Akola, Washim, Buldhana, Yavatmal and Wardha.
Prime Minister also announced an additional flow of Rs 1,275 crore agriculture credits for 2006-07 for the six affected areas and special teams would be deputed from NABARD for the purpose.
"We are also allocating Rs 2,177 crore from the Centre for the completion of major, medium and minor irrigation projects in the six districts over the next three years," Singh said.
He said waiver of the interest overdue till June 30 this year will provide immediate relief to the farmers who would be able to take fresh loans.
Replying to questions, he said there are problems of low productivity, of unremunerative prices.
"We will look at it if there is a need to change the policy...We will modify them," he said.
The Prime Minister also announced a Rs 180 crore programme for providing new cotton seeds to the farmers.
He also decided to provide a package of Rs 240 crore for water harvesting and construction of check dams in these districts.
The package is estimated at around Rs 3,750 crore including payment of Rs 50 lakh each of the six districts under the district collectors for providing immediate assistance for the affected families.
This relief would be in the form of grant, he said, adding that it would come from the Prime Minister's National Relief Fund.
Prime Minister said a cell would be set up to monitor implementation of the package and the government would take an overall view of such problems in the country.
Observing that the rural indebtedness was a countrywide problem he said the proposed group would go into the matter and come with concrete solutions.
The package will also cover three other states, namely, Kerala, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, he said.
On environmental clearances, he said he would discuss the issues with the concerned minister to avoid time and cost overruns.
Prime Minister also announced a sum of Rs 240 crore for water harvesting and construction of check dams in the affected districts.
He said a sum of Rs 180 crore would be provided for sowing of new cotton seeds in these districts.