CM Devendra Fadnavis: Will you guarantee no farmer deaths after loan waiver?

Under pressure to announce a farm loan waiver, the Maharashtra government is looking at ways to boost agricultural output, help cultivators come out of debt trap and transfer subsidy directly in their bank accounts. "The loan waiver, which works out to Rs 30,500 crore, is exactly the amount the government has already invested in the agriculture sector to benefit farmers". These farmers have taken Rs1.14 trillion in loans from formal lending institutions, he said, which included Rs63,000 crore as crop loans and Rs51,000 crore as term loans.

"We have requested the government of India to design a scheme so that the debt of 31,000 farmers can be waived.the government of Maharashtra would participate in the scheme as per the fiscal space of the State", he said.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Friday initiated discussions on a farm loan waiver scheme with the Agriculture Ministry and some States in line with the BJP's promise ahead of Uttar Pradesh elections.

Sunil Tatkare (NCP), raising a point of order, argued Minister of State for Finance and Planning Deepak Kesarkar of Shiv Sena did not have the moral right to table the report as his party, too, was pushing for farm loan waiver. He had also accused Opposition Congress-NCP of shedding "crocodile tears" over the plight of farmers. In case the debt is not serviced, then these farmers will be out of institutional credit, he said, adding that the NDA government has been trying to increase capital expenditure in the agriculture sector, including drought relief.

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Fadnavis reiterated that his government was not opposed to farm loan waiver but wanted the decision in favour of farmers.

In comparison, the government is spending Rs 19,434 in agriculture, Rs 2,000 crore for insurance, Rs 8,000 crore as compensation for natural calamities and Rs 1,500 for various agro-related schemes.

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.

Both Houses of the state legislature were adjourned for the day as opposition parties demanded an immediate waiver. "Since the loan waiver of 2008-09, 16,000 farmers have committed suicide", Fadnavis said. While going in for farm loan waiver, we will lay emphasis on improving the standard of agriculture in the state. "The State Government is honest about intentions vis-a-vis the farm loan waiver". Earlier, as soon as the House assembled for the day and Speaker called for the Question Hour, Shiv Sena legislators entered the Well of the House shouting slogans demanding loan waiver for farmers. "So much so that the State Government is not ready to adopt a one-line resolution in the State Legislature urging the Centre to announce waiver of loans for the distressed farmers", he said.

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