Farmers in Maharashtra who were left out of the 2008 loan waiver announced by the then government would be brought under the ambit of the last year’s scheme, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis told the Legislative Assembly today. “Farmers who failed to repay loans during 2001-09 and could not avail the benefit of the 2008 loan waiver scheme will be included in the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Shetkari Sanman Yojana–CSMSSY (announced in June last by the BJP-led state government),” the chief minister said. He was making a statement in the Lower House on the outcome of the talks held between the state government and the leaders of farmers yesterday.
Protesting the government’s “apathy” towards the farm distress, thousands of farmers and tribals walked from Nashik to Mumbai, a distance of around 180 kms, in the last six days under the banner of Left-affiliated All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS). The protest was withdrawn yesterday after the state government agreed to almost all demands of the farmers, including transfer of forest land rights.
Fadnavis also said a list of farmers who could not repay their borrowings in 2016-17 would be reviewed, and steps would be taken to provide them a relief. “A committee will be formed for implementation of the CSMSSY which will include ministers as well as leaders of farmers’ organisation,” he said.
Fadnavis said apart from crop loan, a term loan to the tune of Rs 1.5 lakh availed by farmers for the purpose of agro shade nets would be included in the 2017 loan waiver. Referring to the farmers’ demand for transfer of forest land rights, the chief minister said the government has sought time of six months to do the needful. He said the land required for the upcoming bullet train project and the Samruddhi Mahamarg (connecting Mumbai with Nagpur) would not be acquired without the consent of farmers.
“Land acquisition for these projects is being done as per law with consent of farmers,” he said. Fadnavis said ration cards of tribals would be renewed as a large number of them have been denied grains on the ground that their existing cards are in bad shape.
“The government is going to replace the old ration cards in the next six months,” said the chief minister. Fadnavis also spoke about the agitating farmers’ demand to bring water from Nar-Par, Daman Ganga and Girnar river-linking projects to drought-prone areas in the state instead of diverting it to neighbouring Gujarat.
“A project in this regards has been prepared by the National Water Development Authority. An MoU has also been signed, which the government will implement,” he said. On farmers’ demand to hike the aid for various schemes like Sanjay Gandhi Niradhara Yojana, Shravanbal Indira Gandhi Vrudhhapkal Yojana to Rs 2000, the CM said the government would look into the matter positively. He said the government had already taken a decision on awarding compensation of Rs 40,000 per acre to farmers whose crops were damaged by pink bollworm infestation and hailstorms.
Following unprecedented protests by farmers, the state government last year announced a farm loan waiver to the tune of Rs 34,000 crore with stringent conditions. Farmers having a loan outstanding up to Rs 1.5 lakh, irrespective of land size, since 2009 were made eligible for the waiver.
Farmers have been demanding a complete loan waiver without riders and removal of bottlenecks in its implementation. In 2008, the then UPA government at Centre announced a Rs 60,000 crore loan waiver for farmers in the country. Among the beneficiary states, Maharashtra stood at the third spot with Rs 8,900 crore being waived to 42 lakh farmers.