Though the Maharashtra government has been boasting that 89 lakh farmers will benefit from its loan waiver announced in June, the actual figure of beneficiaries is expected to be between 60 to 65 lakh, according to the number of eligible applications it has received. Further, farmers’ outfits are pointing out that the actual loan waiver may turn out to be a miniscule amount. Besides, a significant number of farmers could be left out due to the conditions set by the government to grant the farm loan waiver.
The state government has received more than 90 lakh applications for the loan waiver, but the number of eligible applicants is as less as 52 lakh. With an extension of a week to apply for the waiver, the state officials expect the number of eligible farmers to range between 60 to 65 lakh farmers.
Farmers’ organisations have alleged that there is possibility of a repeat of Uttar Pradesh-like cases in Maharashtra. “Only about a few lakh farmers will get the waiver to its highest individual cap of Rs1.5 lakh. The major chunk of the farmers, with outstanding loans for years, will get a meagre amount. I would not be surprised if we come across significant number of cases of farmers getting the waiver of a few hundred rupees, like what happened in Uttar Pradesh,”said Ajit Nawale, convener of the steering committee of the farmers organisations staging agitations for the waiver. Ironically, before announcing the farm loan waiver, chief minister Devendra Fadnavis had said that the government would study the UP model of the waiver while working out a package in the state.
As per the conditions set by the Maharashtra government, families with an annual income of more than Rs3 lakh will not be eligible for the waiver. Families of government employees (except class IV staff such as peons and sweepers) and families of existing and former members of the local civic body have also been kept out of the net of the beneficiaries. Families with common agriculture records with the revenue department will not be able to claim separate waiver benefits. These conditions have barred many farmers from applying for waiver benefits.
“Since the government has defined husband and wife as one family eligible for the waiver benefits, at least 30 lakh of the applicants will turn ineligible. In many farmer families, husbands and wives take loans alternatively. Of the 89 lakh farmers with outstanding loans, 12 lakh have not transacted with banks for years, as their outstanding loan and even the landholding is marginal. Even if they get the benefits, it will be in few hundreds or thousands of rupees. Second chunk of 15 lakh farmers are those who have restructured their loans in term loans in last for years. These farmers too are likely to get very meagre amount as waiver,” said an official from state’s cooperation department.
“Though the government has announced a waiver of Rs34,022 crore, with the arbitrary parameters for the benefits, the actual amount to be disbursed will not be more than Rs15,000 crore. We are holding a rally on September 26 to appeal to the government to relax the norms, and accept all applications it has received for the waiver,” Nawale said.