Centre initiates discussion on farm loan waiver

Devendra Fadnavis may take charge of Defence Ministry Chandrakant Patil likely to be new Maharashtra CM

Senior Congress leader Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil today said the loan waiver granted by the erstwhile UPA government in 2007 had resulted into 80 per cent drop in suicides by farmers in subsequent years.

As soon as the House assembled for the day and the Speaker called for the Question Hour, Shiv Sena legislators entered the Well demanding loan waiver. "We need to make an allocation of Rs 30,500 crore if we decide to go in for farm loan waiver".

Mumbai: Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Thursday assured the Maharashtra Assembly that a state government delegation will be meeting Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh for assistance in the agriculture sector.

"The interesting thing is that during the Fadnavis government's tenure in 2015, 3,228 farmers ended their lives, whereas in the 2016, more than 3,500 farmers committed suicide". At the same time, the chief minister launched a scathing attack on Opposition parties, particularly the Congress and NCP, blaming them for the deaths of more than 16,000 farmers between 2009 (when loan waivers were rolled out) and 2014. "On the contrary, a one-time loan waiver often leads to financial institutions denying farmers crop credit, which is more detrimental to their livelihood", he said. Of these, 31,000 farmers have loans overdue amounting to Rs 30,500 crore.

The chief minister said this while making a statement on crop loan waiver in the State Legislature Assembly, outlining the multi-pronged approach of the government to tackle the agrarian crisis. He had also accused Opposition Congress-NCP of shedding "crocodile tears" over the plight of farmers.

Minister of State for Finance Deepak Kesarkar, who would table the budget in the Upper House of the legislature, when asked about the instructions from his party, said that he would carry out his duty as a minister. Government of Maharashtra gave 2000crore for insurance, 8000 crore as assistance for natural calamities, 1500 crore on various agricultural schemes.

Mungantiwar said post-GST implementation, the state will focus on increasing its non-tax revenue income. Neighbouring states like Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat have provided remedies for improving the standard of living for farmers.

He said that sentiment of the Lower House was that there is no option other than loan waiver to the farmers. But later on, the Opposition parties and Sena stalled the proceedings of the House in the Assembly and Council, forcing both to be adjourned for the day. The Chief Minister should discuss with the Centre and announce a loan waiver before the Budget presentation on March 18. "If they fail to provide a loan waiver, then the Sena will oppose it".

"We.explained the problems being faced by farmers of Maharashtra".

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