state news

Maharashtra government agrees to waive loans for small farmers with immediate effect

A committee will be formed to decide on a few conditions for the waiver.

The Maharashtra government on Sunday agreed to completely waive farmer loans in the state and said a committee will be formed to decide the criteria for the waiver, ANI reported. The farmer bodies which have been agitating for the past couple of weeks have decided to call off their protests scheduled for Monday, PTI reported. The waiver will be effective immediately, Maharashtra Revenue Minister Chandrakant Patil told India Today.

The state government has decided to waive farm loans worth Rs 30,000 crore of small and marginal farmers, The Economic Times reported. More than 1.07 crore farmers with less than five acre land will be eligible for the waiver, the report added.

In a four hour-long meeting between the farmers’ representatives and ministerial committee on Sunday, the farmers gave their list of demands to the leaders. “In principle, approval has been given for loan waiver to all farmers with some conditions,” Patil told India Today.

Besides Patil, Transport Minister Diwakar Raote and Water Resources Minister Girish Mahajan attended the meeting. Under the agreement, farmers who have been blacklisted by banks for failing to repay their loans will now be eligible for new loans, India Today reported. The agreement states that the government will get 30% profit on milk while the farmers will get 70%.

The agreement also says that police cases filed against farmers will be withdrawn. However, cases filed against those who vandalised public property will continue, the report added. Some conditions relating to the complete loan waiver will be decided by the disciplinary committee which will comprise of farmers and ministers.

However, Raju Shetti, leader of the Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghtana warned the Devendra Fadnavis-led government of fresh protests if the loan waiver and their other demands were unfulfilled. “If they fail, we will agitate again from July 25,” he told ANI.

The farmers’ strike in Maharashtra was called on June 1 and had turned violent with protestors taking to vandalising vehicles that transport milk, produce and meat to cities such as Mumbai, Pune and Nashik. However, last week, the farmer groups had decided to suspend their strike after Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis had agreed to most of their demands and had said that the government was “open to a farm loan waiver”.

The farmers had threatened to protest on the streets and disrupt rail traffic on June 12 if the government did not decide before that.

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