Fadnavis-led delegation to meet PM over loan waiver issue for farmers

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Fadnavis said farmers had become debt-ridden within a year after the loan waiver scheme and banks did not consider farmers credit-worthy for making fresh advances.

On estimates that the State Government would need Rs 30,000 crore for the loan waiver, Kadam said, "We appreciate CM's (Fadnavis had made a statement to this effect in the Assembly) understanding of issues but the condition of farmers is critical".

"Today, 30,500 crore loan by 31 lakh farmers is overdue in Maharashtra".

"We have requested the government of India to design a scheme so that the debt of 31,000 farmers can be waived.the government of Maharashtra would participate in the scheme as per the fiscal space of the State", he said.

Nevertheless, he assured, he would discuss the matter of writing off farmers' debts with the Centre, including Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh.

As soon as the House assembled for the day and the Speaker called for the Question Hour, Shiv Sena legislators entered the Well demanding loan waiver.

Minister of State for Finance Deepak Kesarkar, who would table the budget in the Upper House of the legislature, when asked about the instructions from his party, said that he would carry out his duty as a minister.

Fadnavis reiterated that his Government was not opposed to farm loan waiver but wanted that the decision, when taken, to benefit farmers. He had also accused Opposition Congress-NCP of shedding "crocodile tears" over the plight of farmers.

"The non-investment in agriculture sector for many years by previous governments has given rise to farmers' sufferings", he said. "The measures that we have initiated are aimed at taking the state's farm economy from debt to investment", Fadnavis said. At the same time, the chief minister launched a scathing attack on Opposition parties, particularly the Congress and NCP, blaming them for the deaths of more than 16,000 farmers between 2009 (when loan waivers were rolled out) and 2014. We have spent Rs2,000 crore on crop insurance, Rs8,000 crore on compensation to farmers hit by natural calamities, and Rs11,500 crore on raising farm productivity.

He asserted that a crop loan waiver will not help stop suicides by farmers.

Mungantiwar said post-GST implementation, the state will focus on increasing its non-tax revenue income.

The Leader of Opposition said Fadnavis has not set foot in the House ever since the budget session began nine days ago.

Later, Congress Member of Legislative Council Sanjay Dutt said that if the Centre is prepared to bear the burden of farm loans in Uttar Pradesh, why discriminate against Maharashtra farmers. "He should tell us when he will visit the Centre and meet the concerned ministers and the Sena is firm on its stand", he said.

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