Hundreds of farmers who got the short end of the stick in mortgage deals over the years and lost their farm land to usurious money lenders can now look forward to some relief. State Cooperatives Minister, Harshvardhan Patil announced on Monday that the government has already started the process of returning mortgaged land to farmers across the state.
With the amendments to the Act, hundreds of farmers who lost everything to money lenders will find some relief in terms of their property being protected and restored to them. Representation pic
Patil said that under the newly amended Maharashtra Money Lending (Regulation) Act, 450 farmers have been assisted so far. “The ministry has received 450 cases in which money lenders have grabbed the mortgaged properties of poor farmers. Most of these complaints were registered in the Vidarbha and Marathwada regions,” he said.
The Act is aimed at ensuring protection to farmers from money lenders who charge elevated rates of interest and then swoop in to grab their property when they fail to clear their debts. It was proposed following a spike in the number of farmer suicides in Vidarbha. The bill was approved by the state legislature and was sent to the Centre in August 2013 for the final nod.
The minister mentioned that the Act would have a retrospective effect going back 15 years from the date the amended bill was passed. “There are many money lenders who are coming forward to return the land they grabbed from farmers,” he said.
The Maharashtra Money Lending (Regulation) Act proposes a penalty of R50,000 and five-year imprisonment for illegal money lending activities
Relief for Sugarcane farmers
On another note, Patil said that the recently established state Sugarcane Price Board would include representation from the leaders of Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana, as well as members from other groups led by Raghunath Patil and Sharad Joshi.
Sugarcane corporations and the five sugar corporations in the state would also be represented by their directors on the board, which will decide a fair price that will be binding on sugar mills.