A batch of farmers who were awarded as Krishi Pandits and were set to go on a government-sponsored trip to Israel are feeling cheated. For, earlier this year, the government canceled their trip citing lack of funds as the reason.
The batch of 18 farmers had won the award in 2011. One of them, Anand Reddy of Dambrahalli village (Koppal district) said he and his fellow farmers spent Rs5,000-6,000 each to get a passport under the tatkal scheme. But soon the government told them the trip was canceled owing to paucity of funds.
He questioned the propriety of MLAs’ foreign trip. He said MLAs have a tenure of just five years, and many of them do not even stand a chance to get re-elected. On the other hand, he said, a farmer is a farmer for his entire lifetime. Who then stands to gain more from a study tour, he asked.
Another Krishi Pandit awardee, Mariswamy N Ballari of Raichur district, said, he had learnt how to use less water for farming after going to China. Talking of benefits of such visits, he questions if the government assesses whether or not the MLAs learnt something from their trips. He pointed out that the Gujarat government had earlier this year invited Karnataka’s farmers to its state at its cost, but the Congress government shot down the proposal in September, reportedly on the grounds that the benefit of such trips cannot be measured.
Ballari said if such a criterion was applied to the farmers’ proposed trip within the country, then the rule must definitely be applied to MLAs’ costly visit to foreign countries until the government comes up with a fool-proof method to assess the impact of such visits.
Politicians that are against it
Opposition leader in the state assembly, HD Kumaraswamy, demanded that chief minister Siddaramaiah cancel MLAs’ foreign trip and spend the money for welfare of the state. He said that even as teachers of unaided schools were staging a protest for funds and the state is reeling under drought, it was surprising that the government was not taking a stand on the study trip, which is to cost a good sum. He said if the government does not have money to give to the teachers or farmers, how is it funding the foreign trip.
New party against trip
Terming the foreign jaunt a cruel joke at the taxpayer’s expense, Nav Bharat Democratic Party president RK Misra said though such tours were organised twice in five years for every lawmaker as per the legislative procedure, they must be stopped and the provision should be cancelled. “It is immoral go on such tours considering the drought situation in 14 districts across the state and at a time when the exchequer was finding it difficult to clear bills for Rs9,000 crore pending over a long time,” Misra said.