Mumbai: After an anxious wait of over five months, Maharashtra farmers will get a “Diwali gift” in the form of loan waivers from October 18, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis announced here on Tuesday.
“From tomorrow (Wednesday), we shall start disbursal to farmers under the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Shetkari Sanman Yojana across all the districts in the state. The money would be deposited directly into their bank accounts,” Fadnavis told media persons while hosting the customary Diwali-eve lunch at his official residence, Varsha.
Admitting that it would entail a huge burden on the state exchequer, he made it clear that “providing relief to the farmers is the top priority” of the state government.
“Within the next 25-30 days, we shall clear around 80 per cent of the loan waiver disbursals. We have a software in place which has been tested and has a data base of around six million applicant-farmers,” Fadnavis added.
On reports of many “farmers” from Mumbai applying for the debt waiver scheme, he said a probe was underway and only those found genuine and eligible would be entitled for the disbursal.
Earlier, welcoming the announcement, the ruling party ally Shiv Sena claimed credit for the farm loans waiver and hoped that the entire exercise would be completed by October-end.
“It is because of the crusade we had launched that the state government had announced the loans waiver scheme for farmers,” said Shiv Sena Spokesperson and MP Sanjay Raut late on Monday.
On June 24, the state government had announced a massive Rs 34,022-crore relief package for the farmers, days after an unprecedented 11-day strike by the farming community in the state.
Under the scheme, the total number of beneficiaries were estimated to be around 8.90 million, but it is expected that over four million, mostly small and medium farmers, shall become completely debt-free, enabling them to avail fresh bank loans.
As per the available figures, around 3.61 million farmers shall be eligible for financial assistance of up to Rs 1.50 lakh each to clear their pending loans.
Interestingly, last August, a belligerent Shiv Sena had demanded that the Bharatiya Janata Party “prove its claims” that the farm loans waiver would actually benefit 8.90 million farmers, and sought a detailed list of all the beneficiaries to be tabled before the state assembly.
Similarly, Nationalist Congress Party President Sharad Pawar recently questioned the government figures that it would dole out Rs 34,022 crore for the farm loans waiver and claimed that the actual relief would be in the range of Rs 10,000 crore-Rs 12,000 crore only.