Maharashtra farm loan waiver: Rs12,381 crore reaches accounts of 3.1 mn farmers

Mumbai: The Maharashtra government has transferred Rs12,381 crore into bank accounts of more than 3.1 million farmers under the farm loan waiver scheme so far, Maharashtra governor C. Vidyasagar Rao told a joint session of the Maharashtra legislature on Monday, the first day of the budget session.

Chief minister Devendra Fadnavis had announced a Rs34,022 crore farm loan waiver in June last year, which was initially estimated to help 8.9 million farmers. However, the number of eligible beneficiaries got revised to 5.6 million after an online application system coupled with biometric verification using Aadhaar numbers weeded out more than 3 million accounts from a list of probable beneficiaries prepared by the state level bankers’ committee (SLBC).

The governor said the government had so far approved more than 5.4 million accounts and that funds have been released to banks for more than 4.6 million of them.

Once an account is approved, the amount that a beneficiary farmer is entitled to under the loan waiver and one-time settlement scheme is deposited directly into his account. “The remaining accounts are under verification,” the governor told members.

Rao added that the state government’s plan to make Maharashtra a trillion-dollar economy envisaged increased investments in sectors such as agriculture, textiles, tourism, start-ups, and skill development. He pointed out that the state’s GDP grew at 6% in 2012-13, 7.3% in 2013-14, and 5.4% in 2014-15. But due to the increased investments in infrastructure and agriculture, the state’s GDP grew at 8.5% in 2015-16 and 9.4% in 2016-17, the governor said. The government would continue to back policies for infrastructure-led growth, he added.

The governor said that the government, which took charge in October 2014, had inherited a “crisis-laden agriculture sector”. He recalled that agriculture and allied sector had a negative growth of 0.5% in 2012-13 and minus 11.2% in 2014-15. “But in 2016-17, agriculture sector growth increased to 12.5%. This growth was achieved by making heavy investments in the agriculture sector. From Rs29,000 crore investment in 2013-14, it has grown by 280% to Rs83,000 crore in 2017-18,” Rao noted.

He said the government had brought about “a paradigm shift” in agriculture by investing in creation of assets through farm ponds, energization of agriculture pump sets, and rolling out a set of decentralized water conservation schemes under the Jalyukta Shivar programme.

Meanwhile, the budget session got off to a stormy start right during the governor’s address when the opposition Congress and Nationalist Congress Party members protested the non-availability of a Marathi translation of the address in English.

Leader of the opposition in the legislative assembly, Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil, later told reporters that the Fadnavis government had “insulted” Marathis a day before the Marathi Bhasha Divas (Marathi Language Day) was to be observed on 27 February.

“This government has double standards on Marathi. It says something else for promotion of Marathi and does exactly the opposite,” Vikhe-Patil said.

Fadnavis apologized for the goof-up and ordered an inquiry to identify those responsible. Later, a press release issued by Raj Bhavan said the governor had written to both the chairman of the legislative council and speaker of the legislative assembly “expressing displeasure over non-availability of Marathi translation facility”.livemint