Why are milk vans, onion trucks being emptied on roads? Maharashtra farmers’ protest explained
Mumbai city news: As the UP government waived farm loan worth Rs36,369 crore, Maharashtra has been under pressure to do something similarmumbai Updated: Jun 27, 2017 09:35 IST
Distressed over falling prices of agricultural produce and other issues, farmers have demanded a loan waiver.
During 2016-17, banks had disbursed farm loan worth Rs 40,000 crore to the state’s 13.7 million farmers. The loan disbursement has been 80% of the overall agriculture credit target which was set at Rs 51,000 crore for the fiscal.
Bank of Maharashtra, the largest public sector lender in the state, has seen sharp rise in its NPA from 9.55% in 2015-16 to 13.26% in 2016-17. Part of the reason, bankers say, was also demonetisation when recovery almost came to a halt.
As the UP government waived farm loan worth Rs36,369 crore, Maharashtra has been under pressure to do something similar.
Chief minister Devendra Fadnavis earlier said the cost of extending the loan waiver to 31 lakh farmers is Rs30,500 crore and if the government decided to bear it, that would mean depriving other sections of society from their social schemes.
The CM said rather than giving loan waivers, the state will focus on sustainable growth of agriculture. Due to impressive agricultural growth — 12.5% this year from the negative growth rate last year — the collective income of farmers grew by Rs 40,000 crore.
When asked to scrap infrastructure projects to avail funds to waive the farm loan, the CM had said the international funding agencies fund the infrastructure projects, but there was no provision of funding the loan waiver to the farmers.
POLITICAL PRESSURE FROM ALLIES
Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray recently gave a veiled threat of pulling out of the government if his demand to waive off farmers’ loan is not accepted. Addressing the farmers, Thackeray said his party would give unconditional support to the government if it grants a farm loan waiver. “Give a loan waiver and all the Sena ministers will vacate their seats and will give unconditional outside support. If the waiver is announced, we will ensure the government completes its full term,” Thackeray said.
NDA ally Swabhimani Paksha, headed by farmer’s leader Raju Shetti, will go ‘no holds barred’ against Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led government over loan waiver for distressed farmers. Accusing the government of deceiving farmers, Shetti said he was repenting his decision of supporting the government, which had adopted a ‘Mar Jawaan, Mar Kisaan (‘Die Youth, Die Farmer’)’ policy. “The farmers who elected this government will eliminate it. The jawans being martyred at the border are from farmer families and in villages, farmers are killing themselves. The government is following a Mar Jawaan, Mar Kisaan policy,” he said, adding farmers are against the Mumbai-Nagpur expressway for which their land will be acquired.
While farmers want a loan waiver, the state government has sought time for deliberation. The strike is the farmers’ way of creating shortage of milk and vegetable supplies to putting pressure on the government to give in to their demands.