Maharashtra govt announces blanket loan waiver, farmers call off protest

Fadnavis, who described the decision as historic, said in a series of tweets, “Government agrees for loan waiver for farmers. Conditions and detailing will be finalised by a Joint Committee.”

Written by Shubhangi Khapre | Mumbai | Updated: June 12, 2017 8:00 am
Maharashtra, farmers, devendra fadnavis, Maharashtra farmers, farmers agitation, Maharashtra farmers agitation, india news Farmers and NCP activists throw away milk on the road outside Collector’s office during a protest over farmers’ issues in Thane, Mumbai on Saturday. File/PTI Photo

Clearing the decks for an end to the ongoing agitation by farmers in the state, the Maharashtra government Sunday announced a blanket loan waiver, the largest ever, to provide immediate relief to 31 lakh farmers. This is a clear departure from its earlier position that loans of only small and marginal farmers will be considered. The government also agreed to raise the price of milk.

There are 1.36 crore farmers in the state and their loans add up to Rs 1.14 lakh crore but the government estimates that the loan waiver will not exceed Rs 35,000 crore when parameters are introduced to weed out non-farming categories to ensure that genuine farmers reap maximum benefits.

These parameters will ensure that big business houses, professionals or politicians who own large parcels of agriculture land do not avail loan waiver benefits in the name of farmers.

Announcing that a consensus had been reached and farmers had called off their strike, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, who described the decision as historic, told The Indian Express: “The loan waiver is for all farmers and not confined to just small and marginal categories. There will be defined parameters to ensure genuine and needy farmers are not left out of the institutional credit bracket.”

Indicating that financial implications are yet to be worked out, Fadnavis said the volume of loan waiver will be largest the state has ever offered. He hinted that the farm loan model would be almost on the lines of Uttar Pradesh and Telangana.

When it was pointed out to him that the blanket waiver would mean writing off Rs 1.14 lakh crore for 1.36 crore farmers, Fadnavis said: “There was an overwhelming response from farmer leaders that loan waiver should be for needy farmers, and not become a medium availed by rich and prosperous individuals or groups at the cost of poor and needy farmers.”

Earlier, in a series of tweets, the Chief Minister said: “Government agrees for loan waiver for farmers. Conditions and detailing will be finalised by a Joint Committee.”

“Govt also accepts the demand of farmers to increase the milk prices. At the same time, the milk societies will have to agree with 70:30 formula of profit sharing on the lines of sugar industry. Farmers and their betterment was, is and will always be this Government’s top priority. Group of Ministers will also hold discussions with various political parties for a broader consensus and inclusion,” he said.

“The development of farmers and their welfare has remained integral to all policy decisions with capital investments of Rs 26,000 crore. The loan waiver is another step to reaffirm our commitment to the farmers,” he said.

The waiver decision came after a meeting of the core committee led by state Revenue Minister Chandrakant Patil and farmer representatives from Nashik, Ahmednagar, Kolhapur, Sangli and Pune.

Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana leader Raju Shetty said, “We are pleased with the decision. Our concern was for genuine farmers. We are not seeking a blanket loan waiver. Why should rich and prosperous politicians or industrialists get loan benefits?”

Patil said, “This is a revolutionary decision. A loan waiver of such magnitude has never been considered in the state.”

Taking another step to provide relief to farmers supplying milk to cooperative dairy societies and private players, the government decided to increase milk rates from June 20.

“We want to stop exploitation of farmers who are often underpaid. The formula for fixing the milk rate for farmers will be derived, as is done in the case of sugarcane. The ration of 70:30 profit share between sugar mills and cane farmers will be enforced for the milk sector,” Patil said.

The farmers have demanded Rs 50 per litre but it is likely that they will get between Rs 28-30 per litre.

Shiv Sena Minister Diwakar Raote said, “ We are happy with the loan waiver. Any decision that helps farmers is welcome.” NCP president Sharad Pawar said, “I welcome the loan waiver decision. But now we have to see how soon it is enforced.”

The Shiv Sena along with NCP and other farmers organisations had backed the strike over the last ten days. Congress leader Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil said, “We had always urged the government to enforce the loan waiver and now they have accepted our demand.”

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  1. A
    Anand Ch
    Jun 14, 2017 at 6:15 am
    Looks citizens should demand for personal loans waiver. Specially those who died before clearing the loan.
    1. D
      Dayal Deen
      Jun 14, 2017 at 5:21 am
      Justify waiver of more than 50000. Next president should be educated from agruculture university, IRMA or from Sanskrit mahavidyalaya. Unnat Bharat Abhiyan needs to be more focused and with a clear vision.
      1. L
        l s
        Jun 12, 2017 at 5:40 pm
        Banks should have a retired high court/supreme court judge in their loan distribution committee. Each and every loan above Rs 50 lakhs should be made to p with the approval of these judges. Every default, these judges should be held accountable and if found guilty, they should be jailed for a minimum of 20 years. Then only this business of bad loans will be solved. Are you listening, Me Arun Jaitley ??????????????? At present, all committee members are rogues.
        1. S
          Sankaran Krishnan
          Jun 12, 2017 at 4:02 pm
          Now most of the State Govts. will go for Loan waiver or else they will lose to the Opposition Parties and then they will approach the Centre for help and imagine how the Centre can grant the total waiver and instead why not sit together and derive how to go about about the Loan waiver with all sincerity and it is too much to expect from them is a different matter, is it NOT !!!
          1. S
            Jun 12, 2017 at 2:36 pm
            The loan waiver is at the cost of other tax payers who are not organized.
            1. I
              Jun 12, 2017 at 1:47 pm
              After waiving off loans next andolan will be to issue of new interest free loans to farmers . Loans and its waivers are the greatest scams of looting public funds by politicians
              1. S
                Jun 12, 2017 at 12:35 pm
                Loan waiver for needy farmers is most welcome. But Govt. must make sure the same benefits is not reaped by the rich farmers.
                1. R
                  Jun 12, 2017 at 12:06 pm
                  One more Rider to this Farmers shall be imposed NO MORE LOANS in future. The Guys are crying about Malya but see this amount is multiple times more than that In fact all states Farmers should be waved off to ensure Economy is collapsed, One more a PIL should be file for we Tax Payers having any kind of Loans asking Government to wave off this as well as we are paying Huge Income Tax ans my be in first 100 K in coutry
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