Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Saturday announced Rs 34,000 crore crop loan waiver for farmers in the state and said the government will waive loans up to Rs 1.5 lakhs completely. The Maharashtra chief minister also said the loan waiver scheme—’Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Krushi Sanman Yojana’ will benefit around 89 lakh farmers in the state and will make around 40 lakh debt-free. The decision was ratified by the Cabinet. “Those farmers who have paid back their loans regularly, we will give 25 per cent loan return benefit to them. We are aware of the burden that will fall on all cabinet ministers, they will cut our expenses. All ministers and MLAs will give one month salary to support loan waiver,” he said.
Fadnavis further said it’s a historic decision and the biggest loan waiver ever given in Maharashtra. In addition to this, the chief minister said the government will tie up with banks to cope with the financial burden which would be repaid in instalments over four years.
According to Fadnavis, the waiver will help all debt-ridden farmers and small and marginal ones entirely. He also admitted that the loan waiver will put a burden on the state treasury. Assuring that this step will make 90 per cent farmers loan free completely, the CM also made it clear that those who have an income of more than 10 lakhs per annum will not be benefitted in this loan waiving scheme.
Making the announcement, Fadnavis said, “There has been a demand for loan waiver for farmers, who have been severely affected due to continuous drought since 2012. They were not able to get new loans for their crops
until previous debt was paid. We have time and again assured that we will help the distressed farmers.”
“In the last 2-3 days, we have held dialogues with various stake-holders, leaders of political parties, farmers groups, and finally decided to grant the biggest loan waiver given by any state in the country,” he said.
The state government decided to announce the biggest loan waiver scheme, even though the agriculture loans per household in Maharashtra were almost half as compared to other states, said Fadnavis.
“The 7/12 land extracts of farmers having loans up to Rs 1.5 lakh will be cleared, thereby making around 40 lakh cultivators debt-free. Farmers, whose crop loan has been restructured from 2012 to 2016 and who are still defaulters as on June 30, 2016, will get incentives up to 25 per cent of the crop loan or Rs 25,000, whichever is less. For 6 per cent farmers, the government will bring in an OTS (one time settlement) scheme, under which those who have debts of Rs 1.5 lakh, will get 25 per cent of the outstanding amount or Rs 1.5 lakh, whichever is less,” added Fadnavis.
Earlier on Friday, the chief minister met NCP president Sharad Pawar in New Delhi and explained the loan waiver to him. The meeting happened a week after the farmers’ agitation led by Swamibhani Shetkari Sanghatana leader Raju Shetti. The discussion between the ministers was mainly based on the loan waiver and the decision to extend a fresh crop loan of Rs 10,000 that has already been enforced in Maharashtra through national, commercial and district central cooperative banks from June 22.
On June 11, the state government announced complete loan waiver to lakhs of farmers in the state. 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.
READ | The return of kisan politics
A six-member committee was formed by the Maharashtra government to look into the various demands of farmers, including the loan waiver. The joint committee comprised of senior minister Diwakar Raote of the Shiv Sena, Agriculture Minister Pandurang Fundkar, Finance Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar, Cooperatives Minister Subhash Deshmukh and Water Resources Minister Girish Mahajan.
According to a PTI report,”Farmers in many parts of Maharashtra were on a warpath early this month, which disrupted the supply of vegetables and other essentials to cities, including Mumbai. They were demanding a loan waiver, which was backed by all political parties. The stir was called off after the government gave them a firm assurance on bringing in a comprehensive scheme to help the debt-pressed cultivators.”