Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis took to twitter on Monday late night to announce the list of farmers whose loans would be written off on account of his government’s Rs. 34,022 crore farm debt waiver. But the list share by him ended up attacting attention for all the wrong reasons. The Chief Minister’s list contended that the Mumbai metropolis would have 813 farmer beneficiaries. This included 694 farmers in the island city of Mumbai and another 119 in suburban Mumbai.
The Opposition and several among the twitterati were quick to question this somewhat bizarre claims. Congress leader Sachin Sawant said, “When there are no land left to till in Mumbai, how does the government end up finding farmers is bizarre. This raises serious questions on the entire list declared by the Chief Minister.”
Amid all the questions being raised, Fadnavis himself claimed that the figure showing the presence of farmers in Mumbai had stumped him too. “Even I was left wondering if Mumbai has farmers. But, this is a proposed beneficiaries’ list. The list will be finalised after proper scrutiny,” he said.
— CMO Maharashtra (@CMOMaharashtra) July 3, 2017
Senior government sources said that the government had compiled the list on the data obtained from cooperation commissioner’s officer and the state level bankers committee (SLBC). Details regarding outstanding crop and agriculture term loans provided by banking cooperatives was sources from the cooperation commissioner’s office, while the SLBC data was referred to for loans provided by commercial and scheduled banks.
Cooperation Minister Subhash Deshmukh said, “Some farm loan accounts from Mumbai and suburbs reflect in the list. This is being verified. I would assure you that the benefit won’t be given to any undeserving person.”
The controversy prompted the Chief Minister to announce that the loan waiver benefit won’t be passed onto anyone without a proper scrutiny process.
A source in the CMO later said that the beneficiaries shown in Mumbai might include fisherfolk or people from economically vulnerable section who work or reside in Mumbai, but own farm lands elsewhere. “All these loans were provided by commercial banks,” a source said.
But the CMO source said that the government was not taking any chances. “An explanation is being sought from the concerned banks. The information will be verified,” he said.
Fadnavis’s list claimed that debts of 36.10 lakh farmers across Maharashtra would be written off by the government. These comprise farmers who have defaulted on loans upto Rs 1.5 lakh. The government’s loan waiver scheme has also promised a one time settlement compensation up to Rs 25,000 for those paying loans on a regular basis. It has claimed that the waiver package would benefit a total of 89.75 lakh farmers in all.
But the Congress accused Fadnavis of bloating the beneficiary numbers and the package worth. “The SLBC data shows that there were 2,35,839 farmers who had availed loans in Buldhana, while Fadnavis’s list refers to the number of beneficiaries from this district as 2,49, 818. It is understood that the number of farmers with loans up to Rs 1.5 lakh would be less than the total number of loaned farmers. Yet this discrepancy. Similarly, the number of beneficiaries declared by the CM in Yavatmal does not match the SLBC numbers,” Sawant said.
The Congress has accused the government of “deliberately misleading” the farmer population. The party has reiterated its allegations that about 10 lakh farmers, whose loans collectively worth Rs 10,000 crore, were restructured had been excluded from the debt waiver beneficiaries list. “Our allegation is that on account of the various caveats introduced by the government, the loan waiver would just benefit farmers who had defaulted on loans in 2012-13 and 2013-14. Our accusation is that only 15 lakh farmers would benefit from the scheme, and that the total benefit won’t cross Rs 5000 crore,” Sawant said. The government has refuted the claim. The Congress has also alleged that only 1082 farmers had so far received Rs 10,000 in grants for kharif sowing, which were announced by the government. “It has been 23 days since the relief was declared. Our information is that till yesterday only 1082 farmers had received the sum. Only -Your data has been truncated.