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    Term of debt relief panel ends

    THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The five-year term of the Kerala State Farmers’ Debt Relief Commission chaired by Justice K A Abdul Gafoor ended on Sunday. During its five years, the Commission conducted 971 sittings, settled 3,07,769 cases and recommended debt relief to farmers to the tune of Rs 111.14 crore. The Commission had as its members M K Bhaskaran, Sathyan Mokeri, Prof N Chandrasekharan Nair, K G Ravi, C K Gopi and Ahammed Thottathil. In all, the Commission received 4,10,549 applications from farmers of various districts seeking debt relief. The previous LDF Government had constituted the Commission - India’s first-following a spate of farmer suicides in the state through a notification issued on March 19, 2007. Soon, the Commission began holding sittings in the worst-hit districts of Wayanad and Idukki. On June 27, 2007, it submitted its first report recommending that Wayanad be declared a distressed district. On August 31, 2007, the Commission completed collection of evidence in Idukki and recommended that cardamom, coffee and tea should be declared as distress-hit crops. This constituted its second report.In the meantime, Wayanad was also declared as distress-hit district. In its third report, the Commission recommended that loans up to Rs 25,000 availed of by farmers in Wayanad having up to one acre and taken before June 30, 2006, should be written off. The State Government partially approved this report and issued orders. On January 2, 2008, the Commission recommended that Kuttanad taluk should be declared distressed and on March 13, 2008, recommended that arecanut be declared distress-hit.