Poor sales and demand for cotton seed in western Vidarbha indicates that farmers could shift from cotton to pulses like tur, chana and even linseed besides soyabean
Large number of traditional cotton growers in the Vidarbha region of Maharashtra may shift to soya this Kharif season as cropping pattern was set to change after the onset of monsoons, according to agriculture experts.
The total cotton sowing area is likely to be reduced by 10 lakh hectares from 40 lakh hectares on one hand and an increase by the same numbers in soya cultivation area may take place, since soya was a cash crop and yield was satisfactory in terms of acreage, they said.
“The shift from cotton could be more than the 10% that was anticipated initially,” said Maharashtra State Cotton Growers’ Co-operative Marketing Federation sources.
“One of the reasons could be the failure of the government to announce the minimum support price (MSP) for cotton. This has fuelled fears that it may not fetch much more than Rs3,900 a quintal it got last year. If a farmer knows before hand the price, it helps him decide which crop to go for.
Cotton growing has become costly and returns are poor,” sources said.
Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti president Kishore Tiwari said this year a good beginning in the monsoons has helped farmers to kick start kharif operations on time.
“But cotton, which for many years has been the main cash crop of Vidarbha, may give way to soyabean this year.
Poor sales and demand for cotton seed in western Vidarbha’s Amravati division indicates that farmers could shift from cotton to pulses like tur, chana and even linseed besides soyabean,” Tiwari said.
Confirming a lesser interest for cotton by farmers, a senior government official from Amravati division said that soyabean looks to be the preferred crop this year.
“The picture will be clear in only later this week.
Farmers initially just make rounds to dealers to look around and do not buy anything. They take couple of days before deciding and then finalise on the crop,” he said.
Tiwari and his team are also advising farmers to go in for food crops and pulses to augment income.
“I have noticed that demand for cotton seeds is far less. Some input dealers and companies have started offering discounts,” he said.
Tiwari was however furious over non disbursement of crop loan to farmers.
About four lakh farmers have been provided with crop loan by the District Co-operative Banks in Vidarbha which was a dismal show. In Buldana district, only 7% crop loan was disbursed till last week, he claimed.
In case of default by district co-operative banks, some nationalised banks have disbursed loan but that too is just 10% in Vidarbha of the earmarked amount.
According to the former secretary to the GoI, the whole gamut of showering one largesse after another on Reliance Industries should be subject to an independent investigation by a special investigation team or SIT
EAS Sarma, former secretary of the Government of India (GoI), has said that the whole gamut of showering one largesse after another on Reliance Industries (RIL) should be subject to an independent investigation and such an investigation will unravel the hidden links in this web of improprieties.
Mr Sarma, in a letter to prime minister Dr Manmohan Singh, said, “If the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) secures adequate autonomy, it could be entrusted with the task of investigating these improprieties. However, I do not feel quite hopeful of the government’s intentions against the background of the statements being made by some of your esteemed colleagues. In that case, an investigation by a Special Investigation Team (SIT) should be instituted. I feel that the stakes involved in this matter are far too heavy to be taken lightly.”
In his latest salvo, Mr Sarma, cited a news report that says the petroleum minister is once again trying to bypass the mandatory provisions incorporated in the Production Sharing Contract (PSC) in the name of “national security” and extend additional concessions to RIL.
“This is unacceptable. It will amount to a gross impropriety. In fact, what the petroleum minister is now trying to do is to go against the letter and spirit of Comptroller and Auditor General’s (CAG) report on PSCs and dole out yet another huge largesse to RIL. No wonder that those who had opposed such concessions in the past were forced to give up the ministerial portfolio of petroleum and natural gas,” the former secretary said.
According to Mr Sarma, the Directorate General of Hydrocarbon (DGH) had recommended to the ministry that RIL should be directed to relinquish 86% of the KG-D6 block area as envisaged in the PSC, including that in which discoveries were announced belatedly.
“It is ironic that the ministry should choose to interpret the same PSC to hike up the gas price and quote “national security” and to deviate from the PSC, when it came to relinquishment of the franchised blocks as per the contract. It is nothing but a deliberate ploy to benefit RIL at the expense of the public,” he said.
Mr Sarma said, “The minister’s earlier statement that India was “floating on oil”, apparently on an assurance given by RIL, should remind the government how the earlier assurances by RIL had turned out to be totally misplaced, causing a debilitating damage to the interests of small investors and the interests of the downstream power developers. References by the minister to ‘import’ lobbies are apparently aimed to obfuscate the main issue of granting undue benefits to RIL!”
The former secretary had written several letters to the PM and petroleum ministry on the improprieties committed by the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government in dealing with RIL’s gas project in Krishna Godavari (KG) Basin in Andhra Pradesh.
Last year in August, Mr Sarma had alleged that there were irregularities committed in the pricing, allocation and the management of the natural gas from KG Basin to the detriment of the public interest at the macro-level and to the detriment of Andhra Pradesh at the state level.
The Krishna-Godavari basin is spread across over 50,000 sq km in the Krishna River and Godavari River basins in Andhra Pradesh. The site is known for the D-6 block where RIL discovered the biggest natural gas reserves in India in 2002. It was also the world’s largest gas discovery of 2002.
In November 2012, the former secretary, in his letters have said, “The exploration and development effort put in by RIL in the KG Basin, the technology adopted, the resources discovered, the costs incurred, the claims made on pricing of gas and the costs to be reimbursed are all matters that impinge directly and indirectly on the public exchequer. All such matters should be subject to public scrutiny and RIL should be held accountable to the public”.
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PAWS treats and rehabilitates injured birds and animals and spreads awareness about their care
Twelve years ago, when an 18-year-old Nilesh Bhanage was flying a kite, he found a pigeon being viciously attacked by crows. He rescued it immediately and took the injured bird home only to find that it was completely blind. He was unsure of how to proceed after that; he did not know who to approach or where to take the poor bird. “My cousin told me about a girl named Anamika who treated animals in her house, so I took the pigeon to her. Her house was so full of birds and animals that I asked her if it was a zoo! She said they were animals she had rescued and treated as there was nowhere else for them to go,” says Nilesh. He worked with her for a few months to learn how to treat injured animals. In 2001, along with a group of friends, he started Plants and Animals Welfare Society (PAWS).
The main objective of PAWS is to help create a world where no living creature is left in distress. So it started the first ambulance service for animals in Thane, a distant Mumbai suburb, when Anil Kataria from the Ahmednagar-SPCA (Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) donated a van in 2001. PAWS now administers free on the spot first-aid, rescues and rehabilitates animals in need and has recently started performing minor veterinarian surgeries at its premises in Murbad (Maharashtra). In memory of the first pigeon Nilesh rescued but could not save, one of the earliest initiatives by PAWS was to build a pigeon shelter in Thane. “Pigeons are social birds; they need to be in large groups to thrive,” he says. Since its inception, PAWS has helped over 13,000 animals and birds. During the monsoons, PAWS organises tree plantation drives and also fights illegal felling of trees.
PAWS has made commendable efforts to spread awareness about the care of animals through camps organised in schools and colleges and through its website which provides simple, easy instructions and tips on animal care. Some of PAWS’ most significant achievements include enforcing the ban on illegal sale of birds like parakeets and mynahs at the Kalyan bird market, and ending snake-charming and parrot astrology in Thane. It also rescues ill-treated tigers and lions from circuses.
What is striking about PAWS is the passion that Nilesh brings into its work and his commitment to reporting its activities and utilisation of funds to donors and patrons. The PAWS website contains extensive, neatly tabulated information on its work species-wise. Donors can specify exactly what use they would like their donation to be put to.
Alternatively, they can choose from a list of medical and other supplies listed on its website. You can also help by purchasing from the small collection of eco-friendly PAWS merchandise including bags, caps and bookmarks that can be bought from its website.
Donors are thanked with photographs of the supplies they have donated and a daily report on PAWS’ activities. PAWS works through a large group of volunteers and interns. They are supported by a core group of salaried employees including a couple of caretakers, security guards and a para-vet. Nilesh says, “When we started PAWS, we used to go out to rescue animals on our bikes at night after our day jobs. Now, we are able to do much more work because of the ambulance and the rescue centre.” The PAWS Rescue Centre currently operates at Murbad, out of the unused premises of People for Animals, set up by animal rights activist Menaka Gandhi and editor Pritish Nandy. PAWS requires steady donations of money, supplies and volunteers to keep up with its growing reach and activities.
PAWS was featured in the Limca Book of Records in 2005 for being India’s youngest animal rehabilitation team. Nilesh Bhanage’s dedication has earned him numerous awards and accolades from Ingrid Newkirk of PETA and other social organisations.
Plants and Animals Welfare Society
A-18, Savitri Sadan,
Dr Mukharji Road, Near
Nehru Ground, Dombivli (East) 421201, Maharashtra.
9820161114 (Domestic Animals)