The Maharashtra government on Monday decided to extend its loan waiver to all farmers with an outstanding debt of up to Rs 1 lakh, irrespective of the size of the land holding but the proposal has failed to cut ice with the farmers who want the Rs 1 lakh ceiling to be relaxed too. The new proposal could help 70 lakh farmers.
All farmers who have an outstanding debt till June 30, 2016, will be eligible for the waiver across Maharashtra. The restriction of land holding of 2 hectares has been dropped in the new plan. The government has also decided to provide an incentive package to farmers who have outstanding debt in 2016-17 but have been regularly paying
After the government declared the loan waiver for farmers on June 2, a core committee comprising senior ministers and representatives of farmers’ groups was formed to evolve a detailed proposal and work out parameters to define eligible farmers. The committee led by Revenue Minister Chandrakant Patil discussed the final proposal with representatives of 35 farmers’ groups.
The farmers’ organisations, however, rejected the proposal and the leaders later tore it up to register their protest. The 35 farmers’ groups, including Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana, Communist Party and Peasant and Workers Party, refused to accept the parameters drawn by the government. PWP leader Jayant Patil said, “We want complete loan waiver for debt-ridden farmers and not any ceiling of Rs 1 lakh.”
However, statistics provided by the Ministry of Cooperation and Marketing show that the ceiling of Rs 1 lakh, together with the decision to remove the land holding restriction of 2 hectares, covered almost 100 per cent small and marginal farmers.
Unfazed by the continuing protests, senior minister Chandrakant Patil said, “We are trying to cover maximum farmers in the loan waiver. These two packages would bring in all the needy farmers.” Minister for Cooperation and Marketing Subhash Deshmukh said, “The state government has already issued a formal resolution to all banks to start allocation of Rs 10,000 (crop loan) to all debt-ridden farmers. If the banks refuse, stern action will be taken.”