Sharad Pawar to design state's farm loan waiver
The BJP-led Opposition has been pushing the government to implement the waiver at the earliest
NCP boss Sharad Pawar will be the architect of the farm loan waiver that the Maha Vikas Aghadi government is expected to announce in days to come. The former union agriculture minister, who had presided over a mega loan waiver during the UPA I regime across the country, was holed in a meeting with Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray and senior leaders of the MVA in Nagpur on Thursday.
The BJP-led opposition has been grilling the government over the demand that was actually raised by the CM himself during the election campaign. He wanted at least R25,000 per hectare to be given to the farmers without having a cap on landholding. The previous government of which the Sena was a constituent had offered relief to the indebted farmers, but Thackeray wanted a total waiver instead of a partial one. Sources said Pawar has advised the Maharashtra policy-makers on making a new scheme that should be rolled out in due course of time.
It was expected of the MVA government to toe the line of Congress-led Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh where loan waivers were announced within ten days of the government formation. But MVA decided to not rush into this and consider the state's fiscal health before making any commitment. Maharashtra may need another R60,000 crore if it were to make farmers debt-free.
The state has a debt burden of R6.71 lakh crore including the loans taken for big-ticket projects. Considering this, the new government is also reviewing the Fadnavis government's waiver which was in the range of R35,000 crore. Insiders said that the MVA may have the waiver in two legs. The lists of eligible farmers are being made now.
The BJP wants the CM to announce interim assistance if not the entire waiver scheme in the current legislative session. Fadnavis and others in the opposition had raised the demand in the house on Wednesday and Thursday and staged a walk-out when the CM did not make a statement on the agrarian crisis and loan waiver.
The latest report said that 1,100 farmers in Vidarbha's cotton belt have committed suicide since January this year to date because of the distress. The deaths are in addition to 16,918 farmers suicides in the past 16 years in Vidarbha alone. The crisis has also seen unfortunate deaths across the state.
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