Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah urged the state-run banks and cooperatives to grant fresh loans to farmers, reeling under the impact of severe drought across the state.
"There is an urgent need to financially assist the farmers to mitigate their hardship, as 139 local bodies (sub-districts) during the 2016 kharif season and 160 local bodies for the rabi season were declared drought-hit across the state," said the Chief Minister at the State-Level Bankers' Committee meet in Bengaluru on Thursday.
Projecting the annual credit plan for this fiscal (2017-18) at Rs 1,60,020 crore, the Chief Minister, who also holds the finance portfolio, regretted that the targets set for a similar plan in the last two fiscals 2015-16 and 2016-17 were not achieved under the education and housing loan portfolios.
"I found the disbursement under the housing loan portfolio declined to Rs 5,916 crore in 2016-17 from Rs 9,061 crore in 2015-16," noted Siddaramaiah.
The disbursement under the education loan also declined to Rs 1,639 crore in 2016-17 from Rs 2,248 crore in 2015-16.
"Banks have achieved only 80 per cent of the target set for crop credit disbursement for 2016-17,'' recalled Siddaramaiah on the occasion
Karnataka has witnessed a spate of famer suicides due to four consecutive years of drought, lack of water, crop failure and growing debts. According to officials with the Agricultural Department, there have been 821 farmer suicides in the state between April 2016 and March 2017.
Officials say that while 521 of the farmer suicides this year were drought-related deaths, 198 deaths were due to other issues.
(With IANS inputs)