Mumbai: After a strong protest from farmers, the State government has changed the criteria for waiver of farmers’ loans.
If any member of a farmer’s family has a government job with salary more than Rs 20,000, or is a president or vice president of a cooperative committee or if the farmer has vehicles worth more than Rs 10 lakh, such farmers will not be eligible for the loan waiver.
The latest change in the criteria was made by the State government after holding a meeting with the farmers’ leaders. However, the farmers’ committee demanded unconditional loan waiver and threatened to burn copies of the government resolution on June 21.
Dr Ajit Nawale of Kisan Sabha said there are many conditions for getting a loan waiver, and the farmers’ apex body refused to accept them. “We are demanding complete loan waiver. The farmers who are repaying loans on time have not been included in the loan waiver. The conditions laid by the government may keep maximum farmers out of the reach of the benefit of the loan waiver,” said Nawale, convener of the farmers’ committee.
The government is going to amend the Government Resolution (GR), that was issued last week.
“There are some changes in the the eligibility criteria. Government officials drawing salaries more than Rs 20,000, president and vice president of cooperative committees have been excluded from the benefits of the loan waiver. However, farmers, having vehicles like tractors, dumper and for transporting agriculture produce are being considered in the loan waiver,” said Agriculture Minister Pandurang Phundkar.
He said the farmers who took loans from banks from 2012-13 till 2016 will be considered for the waiver. “Good rainfall was received in 2017. Also, there will be a cap of Rs 1 lakh for the loan waiver. We are still discussing the issue before finalising it,” Phundkar added.
The State government is under more political pressure as the Punjab government has waived off farmers’ loans up to Rs 2 lakh. The Punjab government decided on Monday to waive off 8.75 lakh farmers’ loans up to Rs 2 lakh. The Congress is the ruling party in Punjab, so now Congress leaders from Maharashtra are trying to put pressure on the State government. “Our party did it in Punjab, but the BJP government failed to do it in Maharashtra,” said Opposition leader Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil.