Affirming that the Maharashtra government will come out with a loan waiver for farmers before October 31, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Tuesday alleged that some political leaders are milking the ongoing agitation. As many as 1.07 crore farmers with less than five-acre land holding would be eligible for the waiver.
Asserting that a majority of the agri markets were open yesterday, Fadnavis said it was workers of political parties and not farmers who indulged in violence and road blockades.
“Before October 31, the distressed farmers who need help will be given a loan waiver. The modalities are being worked out and I can say with conviction that this will be the biggest loan waiver in Maharashtra’s history,” Fadnavis told reporters after a meeting on urban development with Union Minister Venkaiah Naidu here.
Naidu, meanwhile, reiterated the Centre’s stand that states should announce loan waivers as per their fiscal situation.
Fadnavis inherited a weak fiscal situation and the agrarian distress, and hence the opposition Congress-NCP cannot blame him for the same, Naidu added.
Fadnavis said 300 of the state’s 307 agricultural produce market committees (APMCs) were operational yesterday, four had weekly-off, while three were shut due to the ongoing agitation. Transactions were at 85 per cent of the normal levels.
The chief minister said he has compiled a list of all the incidents which were reported across the state such as road blockades, and asserted that all these were carried out by political activists “hiding” behind farmers to capitalise on the situation.
Modalities of the loan waiver, announced first after a marathon meeting which ended in the wee hours of June 3, are being worked out, Fadnavis said, and invited suggestions from all stakeholders.
Fadnavis, however, ruled out speaking with those seeking to make political gains and said he would talk only with “true” farmer leaders.
Even as some government officials had estimated that the waiver will make a Rs 30,000-crore hole, Maharashtra’s Finance Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar today refused to divulge the financial details, but said the state is committed to helping the farmers.
He said that as many as 1.07 crore farmers with less than five acre land holding would be eligible for the waiver.
Mungantiwar said the government is looking to cover the burden through an additional Rs 10,000 crore mobilisation through non-tax revenues, 14 per cent growth in GSDP expected during the fiscal and also savings on expenses.
“The cost of the waiver is a necessity given the plight of the farmers and also the number of people dependent on agriculture,” he said, adding over 2.5 crore people are engaged in farming at present.
The farmers’ protest has rocked various parts of the state since the beginning of the month. The BJP-led government’s allies Shiv Sena and Swabhimani Shetkari Sangathana are supporting the agitation.
Shiv Sena today warned BJP that if the government did not cede to the farmers’ demands, the “lava of farmers’ pain” will create a havoc.
The government was considering suspension of internet services in Nashik (where the agitation is particularly intense), an editorial in Sena mouthpiece ‘Saamana’ said, asking if it compares “Nashik with restive Kashmir and protesting farmers with the anti-nationals who throw stones at the Army”. It added that the Sena will continue to support the strike till the end.
As the farmers’ strike entered the sixth day today, prices of vegetables shot up in various markets due to short supply.
Farmers are on the warpath since June 1 for demands including loan waiver and higher minimum support prices.