The state government is likely to expand the scope of the loan waiver so that its benefits reach more segments of farmers across Maharashtra. A highly placed source said Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis was planning to stretch the loan waiver to those farmers who have borrowed money from land banks as well as considering higher incentives so that more farmers are benefited.
The decision to include land bank farmers will impose a financial burden of Rs 850 crore on the government and benefit 27,000 more farmers. The BJP-led state government has also decided to table a proposal to discuss the loan waiver issue in the ongoing Winter Session in the state legislative assembly. Besides, the government has decided to provide an additional Rs 15,000 crore through supplementary demands for the loan waiver, over the Rs 20,000 crore already sanctioned, indicating its commitment to provide Rs 35,000 crore for the loan waiver.
The additional component in the loan waiver is likely to accommodate more farmers. At present, the loan waiver covers 67 lakh farmers. And the total amount will be Rs 24,000 crore. Maharashtra has 1.36 crore farmers, of whom debt-ridden farmers who fell out of the institutional credit system number 40 lakh.
In the rest 27 lakh, there are sizeable segments who would avail the loan waiver benefits through one-time settlement schemes and some from the Rs 25,000 incentive scheme. “It is estimated that the inclusion of the new segment of farmers who took loans from land banks will burden the government by Rs 850 crore and benefit 27,000 farmers,” said a senior government official.
Senior BJP MLA Anil Bonde will bring up the loan waiver issue for debate in the Assembly. The strategy is to highlight the agriculture reforms of the government in the last three years. “The Opposition has no moral right to question the government, which has provided the highest ever amount for loan waiver,” Bonde said.
In 2008 and 2009, the total loan waiver amount was Rs 10,800 crore and the restriction on land holding size of five acres in the Congress-NCP loan waiver did not help poor farmers from Vidarbha, Marathwada and north Maharashtra, sources said, adding that instead it worked to the advantage of farmers in western Maharashtra, who are economically more prosperous.