Nagpur: Not withstanding the economic slowdown and fiscal constraints, Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray had declared a loan waiver of up to Rs 2 lakh for farmers, the cut-off date being September 30, 2019.
Thackeray made this announcement in the state assembly on Saturday, the last day of the week-long winter session. “Crop loans outstanding till September 30, 2019, will be waived by my government. The upper ceiling for the amount is Rs 2 lakh. The scheme will be called Mahatma Jyotirao Phule loan waiver scheme,” he said. His announcement was welcomed by his Maha Vikas Aghadi partners in the government thumping benches.
Finance Minister Jayant Patil said the waiver would be unconditional and details would be communicated by the chief minister’s office in due course.
Thackeray informed that banks and the district and state-level officers would be trained in the next two months to ensure the successful implementation of this scheme. The beneficiaries would be entitled to fresh loans for the crop season 2020-21. The government would also announce special schemes for farmers who repaid their loans on time.
It is a partial fulfilment of the poll promise made by the Shiv Sena and its allies, the Congress and the NCP. The CM hinted the government would not stop here but come out with some more decisions on the loan waiver in due course.
During the assembly poll campaign, Thackeray had said his party wanted to make farmers ‘loan-free’, rather than give them a loan waiver. The Shiv Sena had also promised aid of Rs 10,000 to every farmer in Maharashtra. On the other hand, the Congress and the NCP had promised a complete loan waiver if elected to power.
It must be mentioned here that the previous BJP-led government had, in July 2017, announced a Rs 34,000 crore crop loan waiver scheme to cover 89 lakh farmers. However, the government had laid down several conditions for farmers to avail of the benefits, which reduced the number of beneficiaries to 44.23 lakh. The BJP-led government had disbursed Rs 24,000 crore, of which Rs 18,891 crore have been actually spent till date.
Meanwhile, Leader of Opposition Devendra Fadnavis alleged that the government had not fulfilled its original promise of a complete loan waiver.
He said the Shiv Sena-led government had failed to give assistance of Rs 25,000 per hectare to farmers who had suffered losses due to unseasonal rain, a demand which Thackeray himself had made before he became CM. The opposition staged a walkout to protest the government’s failure to keep its promise.