Maharashtra government likely to extend more financial sops to drought-hit farmershttps://indianexpress.com/article/india/maharashtra-government-likely-to-extend-more-financial-sops-to-drought-hit-farmers-5769024/

Maharashtra government likely to extend more financial sops to drought-hit farmers

“Two possibilities are being discussed. The government may extend the cut-off date for the ongoing crop loan waiver from 2016-17 to 2018-19. Or introduce new guidelines to cover targeted segments of smaller and marginal farmers reeling under debt,” an official said.

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The process of collecting data from various financial institutions on cumulative debt and farmers has begun. (File/Representational Image)

The state government is likely to spell out more financial sops to bring small and marginal farmers within the institutional credit bracket to enable them avail fresh crop loans in financial year 2019-20. The decision to extend more sops to farmers comes in wake of the severe drought, which has adversely affected 151 out of a total 355 talukas across Maharashtra. The kharif sowing season commences from mid-June in the state with the arrival of monsoon.

“Two possibilities are being discussed. The government may extend the cut-off date for the ongoing crop loan waiver from 2016-17 to 2018-19. Or introduce new guidelines to cover targeted segments of smaller and marginal farmers reeling under debt,” an official said.

The process of collecting data from various financial institutions on cumulative debt and farmers has begun. Once the exercise is over and monsoon sets in, the government will announce the package. Sources said the government is likely to announce the package when the monsoon session commences on June 17.

According to preliminary estimates, the additional financial burden would be between Rs 15,000 crore and Rs 18,000 crore.

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Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis had announced the loan waiver for farmers on June 24, 2017. According to official statistics, 52 lakh farmers have benefited so far with the government disbursing a total amount of Rs 16,000 crore. Officials indicated that the total financial purse for both the first loan waiver (up to 2016-17) and second loan waiver (2018-19) together may not exceed Rs 35,000 crore.

“The financial considerations will not come in the way of reaching out help to farmers who are in distress. However, the government will also ensure the financial assistance or loan waiver serves its stated objective to make small and marginal farmers debt-free. The purpose is to bring these segments who are facing maximum strain following the drought to come within the financial institutional credit. If their debt is written off with some government support, these smaller and marginal farmers can avail the fresh crop loan for financial year 2019-20,” a minister, who is part of the sub-cabinet committee for drought, said.