Maharashtra government announces loan waiver; farmers call off protests

Maharashtra's farm loan waiver to worsen its fiscal deficit

Maharashtra's farm loan waiver to worsen its fiscal deficit Farmers busy working in their fields

Concerned over the fallout of a prolonged agrarian unrest, the BJP-led government in Maharashtra backed down on Sunday and agreed "in principle" to a loan waiver for all sections of farmers. Fadnavis, who himself is grappled with a simmering farmers' protest in his State for quite some time now, said there could be no justification for such killings. "If the government takes the decision of waiving the loans of all (farmers) it will be good and if not, the stir would be intensified", Munde, a senior Nationalist Congress Party leader, told reporters in Aurangabad.

The Chief Minister said the six-member Group of Ministers will hold discussions with all political parties in the state for a broader consensus on the farmers' issues.

"Farmers have called off the strike".

Minister Patil said that the loan-waiver for marginal farmers in Maharashtra would be with immediate effect from Sunday.

Addressing the media here this evening, leaders of the Steering Committee of the farmers organisations said they were firm on a complete farm loans waiver, implementation of M.S. Swaminathan Committee report, proper minimum support prices for agricultural produce and fresh loans to agriculturists for the current sowing season.

"Farmers and their betterment was, is and will always be this Government's top priority", read the tweet.

The move came after Fadnavis last week prepared the ground for what he called the "biggest farm loan waiver in the history of Maharashtra".

Farmers in Maharashtra were agitating for a loan waiver from June 1. Revenue minister Chandrakant Patil, who heads the panel which will fix the criteria, announced the decision in the presence of representatives from various farmers groups. "We were clear that there would be no compromise on the loan waiver".

Another farmer leader, Raghunathdada Patil, said the minister had assured them that "all loans" of farmers will be waived. "Marginal farmers can get fresh loans from tomorrow so that they can get seeds", he said.

Chandrakant Patil also said the rate of milk would be increased by 20 June.

The government has agreed to hike the prices of milk and milk cooperatives will have to share profits in the ratio of 70:30 on the lines of the sugar cooperatives.

Summary: "We will raise money from any source possible; won't let the farmers down". "The state government recommends minimum support price for crops grown in Maharashtra but the final price that is determined by the Centre is nearly always lower than what the state recommended. We will take a delegation to the Prime Minister and request him to ensure that this loss is offset", Patil said.

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