Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis Wednesday defended the farm loan waiver beneficiary list that indicated as many as 813 of the over 35 lakh eligible farmers were from Mumbai. “There is no discrepancy in the list, all allegations in this regard are baseless,” he said. The chief minister said names of the farmers who had availed loans in Mumbai would be disclosed soon. The Opposition, however, questioned the “genuineness” of the beneficiary list announced by Fadnavis Monday. Taking a dig at the CM, state Congress chief Ashok Chavan Wednesday called the government a “cheat”.
Stating that the list of farmer beneficiaries announced by the CM was “fake” and “misleading”, the Opposition demanded an apology from him. Addressing the media Wednesday, Chavan said: “It’s not Fadnavis government, it’s actually Fasavnis (cheat) government.” He added: “If we carefully look at the recent notifications, government resolutions issued by the Fadnavis government, we will realise that they have been cheating the farmers. The CM must come out and apologise to the farmers for misleading them.”
On Monday, Fadnavis took to Twitter to announce a list of farmers whose loan would be written off as part of his government’s decision on a Rs 34,022-crore farm debt waiver. The list shared by him, however, attracted criticism cutting across party lines. With the CM’s list including 813 beneficiaries from the Mumbai Metropolitan Region, the government has come under attack from the combined opposition of Congress-NCP.
The Opposition has also questioned how the CM’s list missed out the Wardha district. “Are there no farmers in Wardha or are the farmers without debts? We have sought an explanation and the state has to clarify this,” Chavan said. He added: “According to the figures provided by the state-level banking committee, the number of farmers who will be eligible for a loan waiver in Buldhana district is 2,35,839, while the list that CM announced has escalated the figure to 2,49,818, and similar is the case with Yavatmal district.”
The Opposition also attacked the government for not keeping its promise. Chavan said, “Despite the chief minister’s decision of giving an immediate aid of Rs 10,000 to around 1.36 crore farmers owning less than 5 acres of agricultural land, the government was able to help only 1,082 farmers. The government has been exposed, they have to come out and apologise publicly for this.”
Meanwhile, Congress spokesperson Sachin Sawant said, “We want a detailed disclosure in this matter (loan to Mumbai farmers). Where are these farmers? Where exactly do these so-called Mumbai farmers till land in the busy metropolis?” Meanwhile, statistics furnished by national and commercial banks show the Congress-NCP government had given Rs 290-crore loan waiver to farmers in Mumbai city and suburbs during 2008 and 2009.
As many as 269 farmers from Mumbai city and from Mumbai suburbs availed Rs 2.90 crore loan waiver in 2008, which was announced by former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. In 2009, when the Congress-NCP government in Maharashtra announced the loan waiver, Mumbai district alone received Rs 287 crore, according to the statistics furnished by the state-level bankers’ committee to the state government.
Speaking to The Indian Express, official sources said the hue and cry raised over the crop loan to 813 farmers from Mumbai city (694) and Mumbai suburbs (119) was “baseless” as national and commercial banks were entitled to extend loans to individuals with agriculture landholding under various schemes. According to sources in the committee, there are different categories under agriculture and allied services, such as agro-processing or fisheries societies. “Even if banks give crop loan waiver, our guidelines will automatically disqualify the ineligible candidates. If a Mumbaikar who is an income tax payer or has any other source of income has taken loan against agricultural land, he/she will not get loan waiver,” said an official in the Ministry of Cooperation and Marketing.