Maharashtra's newly formed Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi government had announced the ambitious Farmers Loan Waiver scheme on December 21, the last day of winter session of the state legislative Assembly. While announcing the scheme named after social reformer Jyotirao Phule, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray had said that this loan waiver will be for all farmers and there won't be any condition or criteria. However, he had added that the loans of farmers up to Rs 2 lakh will be waived off.
On December 27, after the state government issued a government decision (GR) for the scheme, the fifth point has drawn huge criticism from several quarters. It says, “In this loan waiver scheme, the farmers who have taken short term loans and the due amount of it including basic loan as well as interest is more than Rs 2 lakh on the date of September 30, 2019, won't be eligible for the benefits of the scheme.”
Farmers’ leaders have started criticising the point, with All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) leader, Ajit Nawale referring to this scheme as a means of cheating the farmers. "MVA had assured a complete loan waiver. Now, they have inserted this condition. It won't be beneficial for a large number of farmers. The problem of loans won't be reduced after this," he said.
Former MP Raju Shetty said that there are differences in what they had promised before and what they are giving now. "This loan waiver won't exceed Rs 8 to 9,000 crore in total. The government had said that loan waiver would cost more than Rs 29,000 crore and will cover almost 36 lakh farmers. However, that is not possible with the current GR,” he said.
Also read: Maharashtra Govt Announces Farm Loan Waivers upto Rs 2 Lakh
Agriculture expert Vijay Javandhiya said that the state government should scrap the scheme and implement the Rythu Bandhu Scheme of Telangana government. He said, "That scheme is more practical and aimed to really help the farmers. Maharashtra government must talk to the state government in Telangana and get the details instead of wasting time on this scheme."
Not only this, there is another point in the GR which is also deemed controversial. The number eight point says, "Government has approved to take help of technical support providers as per requirements."
The previous government led by Devendra Fadnavis had failed to implement the loan waiver scheme effectively due to inefficiency of these service providers, adding to the problem of farmers. If the MVA government follows a similar pattern then it will again land in big trouble. A senior officer in the state’s Finance Department told NewsClick that the political implications of such failure will be bigger. "The government has to carefully chose the service providers in this case. Otherwise, there can be a number of issues including 'selective leaking of information'. Our CM is new and he must take this into account," the officer said on condition of anonymity.