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Farm loan waiver: Maharashtra plans special provision of Rs20,000 crore

LiveMint logoLiveMint 24-07-2017 Abhiram Ghadyalpatil

Mumbai: Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis told the legislative assembly on Monday that the government would make a special provision of Rs20,000 crore to part-finance the Rs34,022 crore farm loan waiver it announced in June.

The opposition Congress and Nationalist Congress Party legislators, however, staged a walkout, protesting against what they called the government’s “delaying tactics”. Supplementary demands to be tabled during the session that began on Monday will provide for Rs20,000 crore, Fadnavis said.

The leader of the opposition Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil and Nationalist Congress Party’s group leader in the assembly Ajit Pawar raised the issue soon after the house assembled.

Both Vikhe-Patil and Pawar pointed out that nearly a month after the government announced the loan waiver, no information was forthcoming about the number of beneficiaries covered. An overwhelming majority of farmers had not received even the special loan of Rs10,000 for the kharif season, Pawar said. Vikhe-Patil questioned the need for getting application forms filled up by the prospective beneficiaries of the loan waiver.

“Once the government has announced the loan waiver, it can access information about the number of indebted farmers available with the co-operation department and banks. Why are farmers being asked to fill up applications? This is nothing but delaying tactics,” Vikhe-Patil told reporters outside the assembly. Both the opposition leaders demanded a discussion on the loan waiver scheme but speaker Haribhau Bagde said the house would take up loan waiver for discussion on Tuesday. Opposition legislators walked out in protest alleging that the loan waiver was a total sham.

In June, the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government in Maharashtra announced a Rs34,022 crore farm loan waiver. The state government, however, has not spelt out the strategy to raise money to finance this scheme that it claims will benefit 8.9 million farmers. On Sunday, Fadnavis said the government had opened up around 25,000 centres across the state where farmers could file online applications for loan waiver. These centres have been opened at government offices, district central cooperative banks, public, and private sector banks. Farmers have been asked to mention all details about their bank accounts and also the accounts in the name of other family members.

The Maharashtra government has adopted this system from the model used by the Andhra Pradesh government to identify genuine farmers and beneficiaries of loan waiver. When Fadnavis announced the loan waiver, he had clarified that only those farmers who are dependent on farming as their only source of income would qualify for the benefits. He said the Comptroller and Auditor General had pointed out several irregularities in the implementation of the 2008 loan waiver announced by the then Congress-led United Progressive Alliance including non-farmers getting the benefit.

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