Posted: Posted Date – 9:45 PM, Fri – 22 Apr 22
Hyderabad: Forgetting its promise to double farmers’ incomes, the NDA-led union government appears to be making attempts to double input costs for farmers toiling in their fields to feed the nation. After cutting subsidies on fertilizers and other investment in inputs, the Center has recently increased fuel prices for heavy consumers, which has had a negative impact on farmers in rural areas. They are now forced to spend an additional 1,500-2,500 rupees per acre per crop.
With governments promoting agricultural mechanization and labor costs rising sharply, a large number of farmers in rural areas are increasingly dependent on tractors, tillers and harvesters in recent times. They spend Rs 5,000 to Rs 6,000 per acre on plowing with tractors, Rs 1,500 to 2,000 on harvesters and Rs 1,000 to 1,500 for other purposes until recently. In total, a farmer was spending between Rs 7,500 and Rs 9,500 per acre per cropping season until recently.
Considering the need to support agricultural mechanization, several Primary Agricultural Cooperative Societies (PACS) in Telangana have been granted service stations to meet the needs of farmers in remote areas. Nearly 65 such gas stations have been established by different PACS across the state, with about 38 gas stations located in the former Karimnagar district. They exclusively meet the needs of farmers who are members of these respective PACS. They preferred to purchase fuel from their own companies rather than from commercial outlets. During the high season, daily fuel sales are set at around 3,000 to 5,000 liters per day compared to 1,000 liters per day during the lean season.
However, the whole scenario had turned upside down lately after the Center took the ‘illogical’ decision to raise fuel prices for heavy consumers by more than Rs 15 per liter of diesel in February from This year. This goes beyond constantly changing fuel prices on the open market. At present, heavy consumers like TSRTC, Singareni Collieries Company Limited and even Primary Agricultural Cooperative Societies (PACS) are currently forced to spend Rs 126 per liter on petrol and Rs 124 per liter on diesel against Rs 116 per liter of petrol and Rs 107 per liter diesel at commercial service stations respectively.
“Due to the Centre’s illogical decision, farmers have stopped going to PACS-operated gas stations for two months. Thus, we are forced to close our service stations. This has not only reduced the meager income from the PACS operation, but also forces farmers to travel 10-20 km on their two-wheelers in some areas to reach the nearby commercial gas station and buy diesel,” said Karimnagar PACS Presidents Forum Chairman K. Tirupathi Reddy told Telangana Today.
Not only has the Center’s decision cost PACS dearly, but the sharp rise in fuel prices has also had a negative impact on rental expenditure for tractors, harvesters and other diesel-powered vehicles. The Union Government’s greed for more fuel revenue has driven these rental prices up from at least Rs 1,500 to Rs 2,500 per acre per harvest season.
“While the TSRTC or the SCCL can pass the burden on to their consumers, the PACS cannot opt for the same. Rather than strengthening us, the Center’s decision could weaken the cooperative sector as farmers opt to buy fuel from commercial gas stations,” said Tirupathi Reddy.
Expressing concern over the plight of the farming community following the closure of PACS-operated gas stations due to an arbitrary decision by the union government, the President of the National Federation of State Co-operative Banks (NAFSCOB) and Telangana State Cooperative Apex Bank (TSCAB) Konduru Ravinder Rao said the Center made an illogical decision to increase fuel for PACS by Rs 15-20 per litre. He urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Cooperation Minister Amit Shah and the union’s Oil Ministry to rethink the government’s decision to increase fuel charges for PACS.
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