Maharashtra govt to waive farmers’ loans, strike called off
In move seen as a victory for the farmers who have been on strike, the Maharashtra government on Sunday agreed in principal to waive the loans of all 1.34 crore farmers, irrespective of their land holding, in the state. It also agreed to withdraw criminal cases against agitating farmers where there was no loss of property.
The decision was taken at a marathon meeting held between the high-powered committee of ministers appointed by the government and a 35-member steering committee of farmers’ outfits at the Sahyadri guest house here.
Small and marginal farmers having land holding up to five acres will get benefits of loan waiver with immediate effect and they will be eligible for fresh loans for the ensuing kharif season.
For farmers holding more than five acres, a 10-member committee will be formed to decide the norms and modalities of loan waiver. The committee will comprise representatives of the state government and farmers’ outfits, Chandrakant Patil, state revenue minister who led the group of ministers, said.
Raju Shetti, chief of Swabhimani Paksha and member of the farmers’ steering committee, announced that the committee had decided to defer the agitation scheduled from Monday after a positive response from the government. Shetti said if the demands were not met as promised by the government, the farmers would resume their protest from July 26.
Besides loan waiver, the farmers’ committee was insistent on withdrawal of cases against the farmers involved in the agitation through last week. The revenue minister promised to withdraw the cases in which no damage to properties and theft were involved.
Responding to the farmers’ strike begun from June 1, chief minister Devendra Fadnavis held talks with the representatives of the farmers on June 2 and had promised a loan waiver to the small and marginal farmers with land holding up to five acres. He had promised to implement it before October 31. Farmers had refused the offer and continued the strike. Though the strike was called off on June 8, the core committee announced it would be intensified from Monday if the government failed to failed to meet the farmers’ demands.
The government, on Friday, formed a high-powered group of ministers to hold talks with the farmers’ steering committee. The ministers are now expected to meet other stake holders including opposition parties in the next few days.