Maharashtra panel moots new crop loans to arrest farmers suicides
The Vasantrao Naik Sheti Swavlamban Mission (VNSSM), set up by the Maharashtra government, proposes to provide new crop loans to all farmers in 14 districts in a bid to arrest suicides, its chairman said on Monday.
"We have proposed 100 percent new crop loans worth around Rs.40,000 crore to all farmers from April 2016, for which the state government and NABARD would be required to make suitable funds outlay," VNSSM's newly-appointed chairman Kishore Tiwari told IANS.
Besides, the VNSSM, headquartered in Amravati, has recommended restructuring of all existing farm loans for which funds have already been allocated, but the banks have failed to complete their targets, he added.
"In the current season, around 50 percent farmers have not been covered by state aid or loans and we want to release it by the month-end," Tiwari said.
The VNSSM will approach the Reserve Bank of India to relax norms to facilitate disbursal of fresh farm credits and impress upon banks to cooperate with the farmers to avoid more suicides in the worst-hit areas of Vidarbha and parts of Marathwada regions.
At a preliminary meeting last week, attended by Pravin Pardesi, in-charge CMO, it was decided to complete all pending borewell works in farmlands, ensure completion of food and health security scheme and clear back of electric connections to farmers by March 31, 2016, Tiwari said.
The newly-revamped VNSSM with eight top members named Tiwari, chief of watchdog NGO Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti, as its chairman, with the rank of minister of state.
Tiwari, 57, who categorically that he would not accept the frills and privileges associated with the post, said the VNSSM would submit its first report to Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and the departments concerned within a month.
It has been empowered to recommend and ensure implementation of a host of measures for the welfare of the six million farmers including finance, food, health and education security to prevent more incidents of suicides in the parched farmlands in 14 districts in VNSSM's jurisdiction.
Since January, Maharashtra recorded over 2,000 farmers suicides and in the past four weeks alone the figure stood at 146, mainly due to prevailing drought conditions and failure of monsoon in the state.