The state government on Thursday released Rs 2,000 crore to financial institutions to expedite the farmers’ loan waiver process, stalled for the last four months following the lockdown.
However, Rs 2,000 crore is just one-fourth of the total Rs 8,200 crore required to wipe off debts of 11.25 lakh farmers. Under the Mahatma Jyotirao Phule Karjmukti Yojna, the Maharashtra government had announced crop loan waiver of up to Rs 2 lakh in December 2019. Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray had promised to complete the entire loan waiver process by March 2020.
The scheme was stalled amid the lockdown as the state finance department expressed its inability to release Rs 8,200 crore for the 11.25 lakh farmers. The financial crisis compounded the farmers’ problems as banks refused to give them loan for kharif sowing, which started with the arrival of monsoon in mid-June.
“The government intends to complete the loan waiver process covering 11.25 crore debt-ridden farmers by July-end. Today, we provided Rs 2,000 crore. In next four weeks, the entire amount of Rs 8,200 crore will be provided to banks. Therefore, there would be no excuse for banks to refuse crop loan to farmers,” said Cooperative Minister Balasaheb Patil.
Sensing that there was no way to resolve the farmers’ crisis, the state government on Thursday decided to release part of the loan waiver amount, enabling banks to resume the process and simultaneously issue kharif crop loan.
Former agriculture minister Anil Bonde said, “Kharif sowing is done in June. And the state government is extending help in July. When will farmers get the new crop loan.”
“Debt-ridden farmers were driven to private money lenders. There cannot be any excuse on the part of the government to stop the loan waiver process… Agriculture activities were going on in rural belt. The government should have given highest priority to farmers’ loan waiver. Moreover, the scheme was announced last December. But it is evident adequate budgetary allocation was not made. Even if it was done, it remained on paper,” he said.
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