The Maharashtra government has decided to immediately allocate Rs 10,000 crop loan for kharif sowing to all debt-ridden farmers and not confine the scheme to small and marginal category. The changes were incorporated by Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis after the core committee recommended allocation of Rs 10,000 to small and marginal farmers only.
Highly placed sources in the core committee said a draft mooted by the Ministry of Cooperation and Marketing led by Subash Deshmukh had recommended that the financial help should be confined to small and marginal farmers with landholding less than five acres.
“The decision was taken after consultation with Revenue Minister Chandrakant Patil,” said a member of the committee. However, when the proposal was brought for the CM’s approval, he replaced “marginal and small farmers” with “all debt-ridden farmers”.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Deshmukh said: “The crop loan disbursement through district cooperative and commercial banks for the kharif season is only 21 per cent in mid-June. As against the target of Rs 40,547 crore, the crop loan disbursed has been Rs 8,332 crore.”
The copy of the government resolution circulated by the cooperation ministry said the state had directed all the district cooperative, national and commercial banks to provide financial help to farmers.
It has also enlisted the eligibility criteria, stating that politicians, including ministers, elected representatives and corporators, directors and managing committee members of the cooperative network, directors and higher officials of agriculture produce market committees would not be eligible for help.
A farmer who owns business that generates substantial income, professionals and income tax payers have been dropped from the beneficiary category. Individuals who own four-wheelers and are financially prosperous would also be denied the help. However, farmers owning tractors used for farming activities would be considered for the aid.
Fadnavis said: “I have directed the officials to ensure each and every needy and deserving farmer gets the loan waiver. At the same time, I have also told them to exercise utmost caution to ensure those financially prosperous or with other sources of income don’t exploit the scheme.”
Another decision has been taken to get a consent from national and commercial banks to tie up with 14 district central cooperative banks with low liquidity to ensure crop loan disbursement to farmers in rural areas is not affected.
There are 31 districts cooperative banks across Maharashtra. Of them, 14 are facing huge financial crunch but have robust infrastructure and manpower. The CM suggested that national/commercial banks should use district central cooperative banks network to reach the farmers.