813 farmers in Mumbai among proposed beneficiaries of the loan waiver ?

mumbai Updated: Jul 06, 2017 11:01 IST
Ketaki Ghoge
Ketaki Ghoge
Hindustan Times
Mumbai city news,Maharashtra farm loan waiver,chief minister Devendra Fadnavis

On the whole, the government has claimed the loan waiver, which includes one time settlement option and Rs25,000 compensation to those who repay loans regularly, will benefit nearly 89 lakh farmers.(File photo for representation)

If one goes by the state government’s released list of proposed beneficiaries of the farm loan waiver, Mumbai has 813 farmers.

Chief minister Devendra Fadnavis on Monday announced in Pandharpur that 36.10 lakh farmers in the state would get their debts up to Rs1.5 lakh completely cleared thanks to his government’s Rs34,000-crore loan waiver scheme. The district-wise list of beneficiaries, also tweeted by Fadnavis, however, grabbed attention for all the wrong reasons, namely its inclusion of 813 farmers from Mumbai.

The list includes 694 farmers from Mumbai city and 119 farmers from Mumbai suburbs, which begs the question — where do these alleged farmers till their lands in this space-starved city. There are no official farm plots in the city’s land records.

The inclusion of ‘Mumbai’s farmers’ put a question mark over the legitimacy of the entire list and has given the Opposition added ammunition against the government.

Several took to Twitter to puncture the claims of Mumbai having 813 farmers, with some questioning if these were farmers who tilled land along the railway tracks.

The state government, however, said the list was prepared by the state level bankers committee of proposed beneficiaries and the government had not yet verified it.

However, sources said Fadnavis, miffed with the mistake, called for the details of all proposed beneficiaries from Mumbai and initiated a preliminary check into their inclusion in the list.

“This is a preliminary list of prospective beneficiaries of the loan-waiver scheme as compiled by the State Level Bankers Committee on the basis of the information provided by the banks concerned. It is yet to be verified by the government. A summary cross check revealed these loans (Mumbai specific) were given by local commercial banks. The government will verify farmers meet the criteria before giving out any benefit,’’ said a clarification from the state co-operation department.

A senior co-operation official told HT, “These include loans given for food, agro processing, floriculture and to fishermen. Some of these are loans were disbursed for ventures outside the city limits. Some tribal farmers are also on the list. It is likely that several banks gave these loans to meet their target of granting farmer credit.

State co-operation minister Subhash Deshmukh said there was no question of granting waiver without verifying all details of farmers and inclusion of fraudulent names would warrant government action.

But the Congress found other holes to pick in the list besides Mumbai and accused the government of cheating the public by releasing such erroneous lists.

“There are no farmlands in Mumbai, so where have these farmers sprung from ? But that’s not all. The list states Buldhana has 2.49 lakh beneficiaries, whose entire loans of up to Rs1.5 lakh will get waived off, but the entire district has in total 2.35 lakh farmer loan accounts. This is the latest in a list of several falsehoods pedalled by the government on the loan waiver issue,’’ said Sachin Sawant, Congress spokesperson.

On the whole, the government has claimed the loan waiver, which includes a one-time settlement option and Rs25,000 compensation to those who repay loans regularly, will benefit nearly 89 lakh farmers. This premise has been challenged by the Congress. Sawant alleged the waiver will only benefit 15 lakh farmers.

The list prepared includes 35 districts with only Wardha district in Vidarbha missing from the overall data set. Officials said farmers data from Wardha was still being collated.

The maximum number of beneficiaries are from Buldhana district (2,49,818) in Vidarbha followed by Ahmednagar (2,00,869) in Western Maharashtra region and Beed district (2,08,480) in Marathwada. The least number of beneficiaries are from Mumbai city (694), Mumbai suburbs (119)and Palghar district (918).

First Published: Jul 04, 2017 12:35 IST