Maharashtra farm loan waiver: Facing mammoth farmers’ protests across the state, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Saturday announced a farm loan waiver of Rs 30,000 crore, the biggest such write-off for farmers in the state ever. However, they are still not ready to relent, and expressed their intent to continue their protests.
Speaking to journalists at his residence later in the day, CM Fadnavis said, “The loan waiver, which will come into force by October 31, 2017, will be restricted to small and marginal farmers with land holdings of five acres.”
He further said that an estimated 40 lakh farmers were expected to benefit from the waiver. Fadnavis said, “Of the state’s 1.36 crore farmers, 31 lakh have not been able to access crop loans since 2012. Restructuring of loans for this segment was not permissible, therefore, the only way forward was to write-off their loans.”
Fadnavis, however, expressed his concerns about state’s economy and said that a deficit budget can’t be ruled out. Indian Express reports that Maharashtra is already burdened by a public debt of close to Rs 4 lakh crore and an additional waiver is expected to create a considerable dent in the state’s finances.
However, more than the state economy, the adamant farmers groups, who are having differences with their representatives, is an immediate worry for Fadnavis.
Indian Express reports that hours after Fadnavis announced the write-off after a 5 hour long marathon meet (between 11 pm on Friday and 4 am on Saturday) with representatives of the Kisan Kranti, the umbrella organisation which spearheaded the farmers protests – farmer committees in various districts announced that the strike would continue, with farmers from Nashik, Ahmednagar, western Maharashtra and Vidarbha joining in.
It adds that farmers in Puntambe in Rahata taluka of Ahmednagar, the epicentre of the agitation, have even ousted the core committee members of the Kisan Kranti for not taking them into confidence.
Later in the day, the core committee members became the target of attack by farmers in various districts.Amruta Pawar, member of the state committee of Kisan Kranti, was quoted as saying by the Indian Express that the core committee had erred in calling off the strike without consulting anyone. “In Nashik, we have decided to continue the strike,” she said.