Mumbai: Loan waiver plan must cover farmers hit by untimely rains, says BJP

Updated: Feb 27, 2020, 18:57 IST | PTI | Mumbai

Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar said the farm loan waiver implementation, which started this week, will be completed in three months

Leader of Opposition Devendra Fadnavis
Leader of Opposition Devendra Fadnavis

The Maharashtra government's loan waiver scheme should cover farmers who suffered crop losses due to unseasonal rains in October last year, the opposition BJP demanded in the assembly on Thursday. Speaking during the Question Hour on availability of crop loans for farmers affected by unseasonal rains last year in Solapur district, Leader of Opposition Devendra Fadnavis of the BJP said the cut-off date for the Mahatma Jyotirao Phule farm loan waiver scheme is September 30, 2019. This will leave out cultivators who suffered crop losses due to untimely rains in October last year, the former chief minister said.

"The state witnessed unseasonal rains in October due to which crops spread across 95 lakh hectares were damaged," Fadnavis said, demanding to know if the scope of the loan waiver scheme will be extended till October 31, 2019. Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar said the farm loan waiver implementation, which started this week, will be completed in three months.

"We will try to see how farmers benefit," said Pawar, who appeared non-committal on Fadnavis's demand. When Fadnavis sought a clear response to his demand to extend the cut-off date for availing loan waiver benefits, Pawar, who holds the finance portfolio, merely said "suggestion for action".

Sudhir Mungantiwar (BJP), a former finance minister, objected to Pawar's reply. "On one hand, you say you want to make farmers tension -free and on the other hand you are not giving a clear answer on whether you intend to help farmers affected by unseasonal rains," Mungantiwar said. Reacting to this, Pawar said, "appropriate decision will be taken."

Early this week, the state government began depositing loan waiver amounts under the scheme, which covers crop debt up to Rs 2 lakh, in bank accounts of farmers. The first list of beneficiaries, released on February 24, covered 15,358farmers. Earlier, replying to the main question regarding crop loans to farmers in Solapur, CooperationMinister Balasaheb Patil said till January 2020, 26,641 cultivators were given loans for the rabi (winter) season.

He admitted that farmers in Solapur district were not able to repay their pending loan amounts in time due to crop losses they suffered in natural calamities. Hence, they were facing difficulties in getting fresh crop loans, Patil said.

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