KEEPING A key poll promise of the BJP, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, at the first meeting of his cabinet on Tuesday, announced his government’s decision to waive loans of Rs 36,359 crore taken by about 94 lakh small and marginal farmers in the state. The waiver amount includes Rs 5,630 crore loans of 7 lakh farmers whose accounts were declared non-performing assets (NPAs) by banks. In its Lok Kalyan Sankalp document 2017 for the assembly elections, the BJP had promised to waive crop loans of small and marginal farmers. During the poll campaign, Prime Minister Narendra Modi too had promised loan waiver of farmers if his party were to come to power in the state.
According to government records, out of 2.30 crore farmers in the state, 1.85 crore are marginal and 0.30 crore are small farmers. The cabinet on Tuesday decided to waive outstanding crop loans adding up to Rs 30,729 crore taken by about 86.68 lakh small and marginal farmers till March 31, 2016, up to a maximum limit of Rs 1 lakh per farmer. In addition, the state government will also settle the dues of 7 lakh farmers with NPAs under a one time settlement scheme.
All farmers with land holdings of less than one hectare, or 2.5 acres, will be considered marginal farmers, while those with land holdings of 1-2 hectares will be considered small farmers. The farmers were unable to repay the loans due to crop failure caused by hailstorm, drought and floods. Cabinet Minister Siddharth Nath Singh said the state government would bear the cost of the loan waiver and no financial support would be sought from the Centre. He said the state would raise the funds through the “Kisan Raahat Bond”.
Finance Minister Rajesh Agrawal said farmers who have paid their loans will not benefit from the scheme. An eight-member committee, under the chairmanship of the chief secretary, has been set up to finalise the modalities of the scheme. Meanwhile, the cabinet also decided that illegal slaughterhouses would not be allowed to operate. Singh said the cabinet was informed that 26 such slaughterhouses had been shut down so far. The cabinet also approved the proposal regarding formation of anti-Romeo squads at police stations.
The government also decided to draft a new industrial policy to increase investment in the state. A group of ministers led by Deputy Chief Minister Dinesh Sharma will visit several states like Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Maharahstra to study their industrial policies. Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya will head another committee of ministers to look into illegal mining. The committee is expected to hand in its report within a week.
With the state recording a bumper wheat crop, the cabinet decided to open 5,000 wheat procurement centres across the state. While about 40 lakh metric tonnes of wheat will be procured in the first stage, the total target will be about 80 lakh metric tonnes. Along with the minimum support price (MSP) of Rs 1,625, farmers will be paid Rs 10 per quintal for transportation and loading. The cabinet also decided to set up a three-member committee to look into the steps that need to be taken to provide relief to potato farmers.