Maha government forms committee to propose farmers' projects

Mumbai: Maha Vikas Aghadi’s government has established a cabinet subcommittee chaired by Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar to study and recommend an appropriate regime for account holders with a short-term loan / restructured crop loan arrears in – above Rs 2 lakh as well as for account holders who have repaid their crop loan in a timely manner. The government has already launched a harvest loan exemption up to Rs 2 lakh with a deadline of September 30, 2019. Almost 30.57 lakh farmers will be covered by state government spending estimated at Rs 21,216 crore .

The government, which issued the notification on January 15, asked the committee to submit its recommendation within one month. The Wavier Crop Loan Program is named after the famous social reformer Mahatma Jyotirao Phule.

The government, in its notification, stated that there were, in all, 1.53 crore farmers, who are related to agriculture and work related to agriculture. They borrow from central commercial and district cooperative banks. Between 2015-2016 and 2018-2019, farmers were hard hit due to drought and untimely rain in various parts of the state. Farmers, who have been unable to repay their loans due to the severe damage to crops caused by the natural disaster, are in debt.

The government has stated that the Mahatma Jyotirao Phule crop credit exemption program up to a loan of 2 lakh rupees has been launched to provide much-needed relief to farmers in financial crisis. The government’s decision to form the cabinet subcommittee is important because political parties and farmers’ organizations are unhappy with the current farm loan forgiveness regime, arguing that it is too inadequate and too small compared to the wavier regime of the BJP government which is worth Rs 34,000 crore covering 53 lakh farmers.

The cabinet subcommittee will recommend measures to alleviate farmers with loans over Rs 2 lakh. In addition, it will make suggestions to offer an incentive to farmers who repay their loans on time. Pawar said on Wednesday that the government is committed to applying the harvest loan waiver within a specified time. He hinted that the current loan scheme of up to 2 lakh rupees would be implemented in two phases and said he would include additional provisions in the annual budget for 2020-2021.