Uddhav draws flak for loan waiver up to ₹2 lakh for farmers

Uddhav Thackeray
Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray who was sworn in on November 28 last year, has time till May 27 to get elected to the state legislature, failing which he will have to step down. Photo: PTI

Farmers, whose outstanding crop loan amount till September 30 this year exceeds ₹2 lakh, will not be eligible for the loan waiver scheme announced by the Uddhav Thackeray-led Maha Vikas Aghadi government in Maharashtra last week.

A government resolution (GR), which specifies the criteria for the waiver scheme, was issued here on Saturday.

Several farmers leaders and the opposition BJP criticised the Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress government, saying it has “betrayed” the farmers as a majority of them will not be able to get the benefit of the scheme due to this condition.

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Finance Minister and NCP leader Jayant Patil, however, said the government will work out a plan to provide relief to farmers whose loan dues are over ₹2 lakh.

Uddhav Thackeray last Saturday announced the scheme, which was approved by the state cabinet this week.

“As per the Mahatma Jyotirao Phule Farmer Loan Waiver Scheme, farmers whose loan is up to ₹2 lakh taken between April 1, 2015, and March 31, 2019, and which has not been repaid till September 30, 2019, will be eligible for the waiver,” the GR said.

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But if the principal crop loan amount taken during this period along with the interest exceeds Rs two lakh, and which has not been repaid by September-end, then those farmers will not be eligible for waiver, it added.

A committee of the Finance and Co-operation Department will take a decision on whether to include the NPA (non-performing assets) accounts of farmers in nationalised, private and rural banks in the loan waiver scheme, it said.

Individual farmers will be considered for loan waiver, the GR said, adding that loan taken from nationalised, district, co-operative banks and co-operative societies will be considered.

Others who will not get the benefit of the scheme are elected representatives, including serving and former ministers, present and former MLAs, central and state government employees, whose monthly family income is more than ₹25,000, excluding Class IV employees.

Those who pay tax on the income incurred from non-agriculture sector, pensioners whose monthly income is more than ₹25,000, excluding former servicemen, will also not get the benefit.

Farmer leader Ajit Navale alleged the GR issued by the state government was a “betrayal” of the farming community.

“In the last loan waiver scheme (announced by the previous Devendra Fadnavis dispensation), there was a provision of one-time settlement, under which the government would pay ₹1.5 lakh if the farmer deposits the remaining amount of the loan,” he said.

“Majority of farmers have loan arrears of more than Rs two lakh. So as per the GR specifics, most of the farmers are out of the scheme,” he said, adding that the government announced that the loan waiver would be unconditional.

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Navale said the GR should be withdrawn and the loan waiver should be made unconditional.
Swabhimani Paksha leader Raju Shetti, an ally of the Congress-NCP, said, “Farmers were promised unconditional loan waiver. But due to the Rs two lakh condition, several farmers will become ineligible for the scheme. This is wrong.”

He also said that there was no clarity about how many farmers were affected by the unseasonal rains that lashed parts of the state this year.

BJP leader and former finance minister Sudhir Mungantiwar and state BJP president Chandrakant Patil also criticised the Thackeray government for “betraying” farmers.
“The Uddhav Thackeray-led government has deceived the farmers,” they said.

However, minister Jayant Patil said the government was working on a proposal to provide relief to farmers who repay their dues regularly and on time.

“We have sought details of farmers whose loan dues are more than Rs two lakh and will work out a plan to provide relief to them as well,” he said.

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