Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar on Monday unequivocally said government cannot take on "new responsibilities" of waiving farm loans until the present package to write off Rs 60,000 crore agriculture debts is implemented.
"We are not in a position to take new responsibilities till the present commitments are implemented," Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar said replying to supplementaries on the issue in the Lok Sabha.
He said the government had no specific scheme to cover loans taken from moneylenders or deal with the issue of landholdings more than those covered by the package.
"Let us first implement the farm loan waiver scheme presented in the Budget and see the results," Pawar said noting that more than 81 per cent farmers fall in the small and medium categories which were covered under the package.
The NCP leader said government would strive to implement the scheme announced by Finance Minister P Chidambaram in 2008-09 General Budget. The ambitious scheme is due to be implemented by June 30 this year.
Days after the announcement, Congress president Sonia Gandhi and party general secretary Rahul Gandhi had mooted changes in the loan waiver scheme to cover more farmers. Rahul had specifically suggested that there should not be one landholding ceiling(fixed at two hectares) nor there should be a single cut-off date.
Pawar rejected Opposition's claim that farmers were being cheated by the loan waiver scheme.
The minister also said wheat research institutes and agriculture universities are carrying out research to develop a black rust resistant variety of wheat. Recently, the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) issued an advisory warning to wheat producing nations about the spread of the black rust disease causing virus.