MUMBAI: The Maharashtra government has just managed to loosen the noose around its own neck by agreeing to the demands of loan waiver by farmers and not doing anything substantial for ending farmer suicides, said Anil Ghanwat, president of Shetkari Sanghatana, the group that has been fighting for the issue for over four decades.
“We had insisted that demands related to electricity bills and rates of milk too be included in the discussion. Of these, assured power and waiving off of electricity bills were not discussed at all. There was no assurance today other than the one given on June 2,” Ghanwat, who had boycotted the steering committee meeting on Saturday said. “The loan waiver given by the government too would be beneficial only to a handful of farmers, I fear,” he said.
“The government has assured of waiver of farm loan. This means they would waive off only tired debts and if a farmer has taken loan for any infrastructure development like drip or shed net or farm pond, it won’t be waived off. This won’t help farmers who have been paying their loans regularly. Moreover, those who have got their loans reorganised too won’t get any benefit,” Ghanwat said.
“They also spoke of waiving of loans of those who are solely dependent on farming. This means that those who are salaried or have any other income of over Rs 2.5 lakh per annum would be excluded from the waiver process. This would leave only a handful of farmers from each village who would get the benefit from the waiver,” he said.
“When the GR reaches the banks and the farmers visit the banks hoping that their loans are waived off, there would be a bigger outburst of anger,” he said.
This is the third time the farmers in Maharashtra would get a loan waiver in a span of a decade.
“The first waiver in my memory was announced when V P Singh was PM in 1989. Then, every farmer had got a waiver of `10,000,” he said.