More than a week after farmers in Maharashtra went on strike, the state government on Sunday announced complete loan waiver to the farmers in the state. Following the announcement, the farmer leaders in the state has decided to call off the protests that was scheduled for Monday. Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis termed it as a historic decision to provide relief to the farmers. Shortly after the decision he tweeted, “The government agrees for the loan waiver for farmers. The conditions and detrailing will be finalised by a joint committee.”
The Maharashtra government has said that it will form a committee to decide the criteria to waive off the loans. Maharashtra Revenue Minister, C Patil, has said, “CM had announced loan waiver for small and marginal farmers, today govt has accepted it based on certain criteria.” Patil, who headed a high-powered committee set up by Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, was speaking to reporters after holding discussions with farmer leaders.
Farmer leader and Lok Sabha member Raju Shetti, who participated in the talks, said he was happy that their demands had been met. “Our issues have been resolved. We have decided to temporarily call off our agitation, including the dharna protests scheduled for tomorrow and day after. However, if no satisfactory decision is taken (on the criterion for loan waiver) by July 25, we will restart our stir,” Shetti said.
Another farmer leader, Raghunathdada Patil, said the minister had assured them that “all loans” of farmers will be waived. “The atmosphere now is like Diwali celebrations. 100 per cent of our demands have been accepted,” he said. The ministers’ group has decided to restart fresh loan disbursal to farmers from today, Raghunathdada said.
“We are calling off the road and rail roko protests scheduled for tomorrow and June 13,” independent MLA Bachu Kadu said. “However, if the decision taken today is not implemented before July 24, the farmers will resume their agitation,” Kadu said. The revenue minister, asked if his announcement on farmers getting new loans from today meant that the old ones would be restructured, said, “It is a simple banking question. Till the old loan is waived, one doesn’t get new loan.”
Fadnavis had on Friday announced the formation of the six-member committee to look into the various demands of farmers, including the loan waiver. The panel also comprises 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.
On June 1, farmers from a village in Ahmednagar district went on strike followed by many farmers groups in other parts, who tried to suspend vegetable and milk supply to Mumbai.
with PTI inputs