Farmers outfits in Maharashtra are up in arms against the Jyotirao Phule Loan Waiver Scheme launched by the state government. These organisations allege that the government has gone back on its words of clearing 7/12 extracts of farmers, and most of them will be ineligible for the same as their pending dues exceed the Rs 2-lakh limit.
Anil Ghanwat of the Shetkai Sanghantana said since the scheme only covers outstanding crop loan, medium-term and long-term borrowers will not get the benefits. Farmers with outstanding loans before 2015 will be deprived of benefits. Many farmers will not be able to avail of loan waiver because of technical mistakes of banks and a piece of farm land having multiple owners. Since the loans were restructured in the past, farmers may not be eligible for the debt waiver, he said.
Chief minister Uddhav Thackeray has already announced that the government is formulating another scheme for farmers whose debt amount exceeds Rs 2 lakh, and for those repaying their debts on a regular basis. Ghanwat demanded that the government should approve of 7/12 extracts of farmers as promised or similar benefits for the entire farming community. The government should give more freedom to farmers by recalling export ban on commodities, removing stock limits, and stopping imports. The farmers’ body has threatened to agitate unless the government announces a full loan waiver.
The chief minister announced the scheme on December 20. Last week, the state issued a government resolution (GR) to implement it, according to which farmers with debt of more than Rs 2 lakh, including the principal amount and interest, would not be eligible for benefits of the Jyotirao Phule Loan Waiver Scheme. The state government expects more than 30 lakh farmers to benefit from the scheme, which could cost the exchequer more than Rs 20,000 crore.
Ajit Navale, state secretary, All India Kisan Sabha, has also criticised the terms and conditions in the GR. "The government has backed out of what they had promised in the election campaign. The Shiv Sena had promised to clear the 7/12 extracts of farmers, but they are not ready to waive existing debts of above Rs 2 lakh, he said.
Navale pointed out that the BJP government's loan waiver scheme was better than the current one. Under the BJP-led government's scheme, there was a one-time repayment provision which allowed loan waiver for debts amounting to Rs 1.5 lakh, which is not present in the current scheme, he said. According to him, more than 70% farmers in the state borrow Rs 1 lakh to Rs 1.5 lakh and after taking into account the interest on the principal amount, the total debt amount goes beyond Rs 2 lakh. With such strict norms and conditions, many farmers could be disqualified. Raju Shetti, leader of Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana, said the scheme would benefit only a handful of farmers.