Maharashtra government offers Rs 34,000 crore loan waiver

Over 90 lakh farmers to benefit from 'country's biggest' farm sop; complete waiver announced for those with crop loans of up to Rs 1.5 lakh

Devendra Fadnavis Devendra Fadnavis 

In a first, the Maharashtra government yesterday announced the biggest ever farm loan waiver - of Rs 34,000 crore - in the country. Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said that the decision would benefit over 90 lakh farmers. The cut-off date for the scheme, named Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Krishi Sanman Yojana, is June 30, 2016.

Now, any farm account holder with a crop loan of up to Rs 1.5 lakh will get complete waiver. Those with dues of over Rs 1.5 lakh will also benefit. The state, however, will follow a separate mechanism. Farmers who service their loans regularly will get a bonus of Rs 25,000, directly credited to their accounts.

Earlier, the government had decided to extend the loan waiver only to small and marginal farmers, but the revised scheme doesn't have any condition on the quantum of land holding. Fadnavis said the decision was taken after discussions with all stakeholders and political parties. "And, if some people are still not happy, they may continue their protest. But, I don't think farmers will support them in the agitation," said the CM.

The CM said the state wasn't able to sustain a financial burden bigger than this one. "This [loan waiver] will definitely affect other work. We have requested banks to offer us instalments for servicing loans. The state cannot pay up the entire amount in just one year," he said.

According to the CM, BJP legislators and ministers have contributed a month's salary to building the loan waiver fund. Shiv Sena legislators and ministers had announced a similar contribution a day before, with Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray donating Rs 10 lakh.

Govt servants excluded
Public representatives in the state and local self-governments will not get any benefit from the scheme. In addition, government servants who double up as farmers, income-tax payers and VAT registered traders, who have an annual turn-over of more than Rs 10 lakh, have also been excluded.

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