Mumbai: In a surprising announcement made by Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, 813 farmers in Mumbai city and suburb districts will be debt-free. Fadnavis on Monday late night announced that 36.1 lakh farmers in the State would get benefit of the Rs 34,000 crore loan waiver scheme.
The proposed list tweeted by the CM showed there are 694 farmers in Mumbai city, including 119 farmers in Mumbai suburbs. These farmers borrowed loans from banks and they would be the beneficiaries of the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Sanman Yojana. The inclusion of 813 farmers from Mumbai raises the question where exactly do these farmers do their farming in the congested metropolis. While listing the proposed list of beneficiaries from Mumbai and suburbs, the chief minister forgot to list the farmers from Wardha, where maximum debt-ridden farmers committed suicide.
There is confusion over the district-wise list of beneficiaries tweeted by CM. Officials from the Co-operative Department or Mumbai District Cooperative Bank were not able to clarify about the farmers listed from Mumbai and suburb. According to the list, the farmers, who had taken crop loans from banks will be waived up to Rs 1.5 lakh and their property records will be cleared of debts.
The government claimed that the loan waiver includes farmers who had opted for one-time settlement and those repaying the loans regularly will get incentive of Rs 25,000 as a compensation.
“These could be farmers who own land elsewhere in the State but have moved to Mumbai. They may have leased out their land for farming but taken loans in their name. We are checking this with the parent department that prepared the data,” said an official from the Co-operative Department.
“There is one more possibility that the farmers might have taken a loan from a private bank and the bank might not have an office or a branch in the concerned area, so the loan is reflected in the bank’s head office at Mumbai,” said a senior officer from the Co-operative Department. According to the Maharashtra State Co-operative Bank, there are fishermen in Mumbai and the Mumbai district bank might have given a loan to co-operative societies for the fishermen. Such loans come under the agri-sector.
The inclusion of these farmers based in Mumbai puts a question mark on the entire list and could support the Opposition’s claims that the loan waiver announced by the State is unlikely to benefit farmers.
According to the list, the maximum number of beneficiaries are from Buldhana district (2,49,818) in Vidarbha followed by Ahmednagar (2,00,869) in Western Maharashtra region and Beed district (2,08,480) in Marathwada. While from Pune district 1,83,209 farmers are proposed to be debt-free.
The 17 districts fall in the below 1,00,000 beneficiaries list drawn up for the state.
Incidentally, all the coastal districts of Konkan - blessed with abundant rains - figure lowest in the list of beneficiaries. They are Sindhudurg (24,447), Thane (23,505), Raigad (10,809), Palghar (918), Mumbai (694), and the state’s lowest - Mumbai Suburban District with 119 farmers - who are scheduled to become debt-free soon.
Fadnavis said he is also wondering how Mumbai has farmers. “This is the list of proposed beneficiaries, so it will go through scrutiny before it is finalised. We will inquire about details of the loans, farmers before giving benefits under the scheme,” said Fadnavis.(with Agency inputs)
‘Govt should apologise’
The Opposition alleged that only 4,42,902 farmers who are defaulters from 2012-13 and 2013-14 with loans up to Rs 2,438.98 crore will get the benefit of the loan waiver scheme. Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee’s (MPCC) spokesperson Sachin Sawant said that the total loan waiver package won’t go beyond Rs 5,000 crore. The number is set to increase further considerably. In its decision last year, the government had announced to restructure the loan of 10,13,787 farmers from
2014-15 and 2015-16.
“These farmers will not fall in the league of loan defaulters and hence will be awarded only the benefits such as Rs 15,000 to 25,000 for regular premium payment and not the loan waiver,” said Sawant. “The government must apologise to the people of the State for lying and presenting over exaggerated numbers,” he said.