Uddhav announces loan waiver

Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray announced a loan waiver of up to Rs.2 lakh per farmer on the last day of the Winter Session of the legislature, as promised in the government’s Common Minimum Programme.

The government will waive loans outstanding up to September 30, 2019, the CM told the assembly, adding the upper ceiling for the amount is Rs.2 lakh. The administration will ensure that the Mahatma Jyotirao Phule loan waiver scheme is not affected, even if the state’s financial position is weak, he said. “The farmers will have the facility to reconstruct their loans taken after that [September 30],” Uddhav said. It is not known how many farmers will benefit from the waiver.

Later, congratulating the government, Finance Minister Jayant Patil said this would be the biggest loan waiver ever in the state. “There will be no form filling, conditions or long queues to collect the loan waiver. The money will be directly sent to farmers’ accounts. [The previous] BJP [government] declared loan waiver of Rs.35,000 crore, but farmers received only Rs.15,000 crore. This won’t happen now,” Patil said. He added that MPs, MLAs and government officials are excluded from the scheme.

An official from the Revenue Department said it will ensure that the waiver is implemented within three months. “We are working on the terms and conditions. The process will be transparent and will not be drawn out, as instructed by the CM. We are also talking with banks on the issue,” the official said.

The BJP government had given a loan waiver of Rs.1.5 lakh per farmer in 2018. However, it attached too many conditions and the online registration system did not work well. As a result, many farmers could not benefit.

Leader of the Opposition Devendra Fadnavis, meanwhile, said the BJP would hold an agitation over the scheme. Speaking to reporters outside the legislature, Fadnavis said: “The loan waiver announced by us [BJP-led government] in 2017 has already benefited farmers. We waived loans up to Rs.1.50 lakh. Between 2017 and 2019, there will be very few farmers with outstanding loans.”

“The real needy farmers are the ones who lost their crops due to untimely rain in October,” he said.

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