Rajasthan to set up committee for farm loan waivers
New Delhi: Following a 13-day-long protest by farmers, the Rajasthan government has agreed to set up a high-level technical committee to decide on a likely farm loan waiver.
According to an agreement between the government and farmer representatives late on Wednesday night, the committee will look into demands by protesting farmers to waive off Rs50,000 of debt per farmer.
The high-level technical committee will also study loan waiver schemes in states like Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh and Punjab and submit its report within a month. Mint has reviewed a copy of the agreement.
Giving in to farmers’ demand, the Rajasthan government also agreed to scale up procurement of different crops at support prices, and said that it will secure the lives of cattle traders who have been attacked in the past by vigilantes. The government will also consider a monthly pension of Rs2,000 to farmers who are over 60 years old, the agreement said.
The farmers’ agitation in Sikar district of Rajasthan since 1 September is led by the All India Kisan Sabha, the farmer’s wing of the Communist Party of India (Marxist).
If the Rajasthan government agrees to a loan waiver, it will be the fifth state to do so, after Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Maharashtra and Karnataka waived over Rs85,000 crore of short-term crop loans.
Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh are likely to announce loan waivers as they go to polls in 2018.
Farmers in several states have been protesting since June after a record harvest in 2016-17, together with a demonetisation-induced cash crunch, led to a sharp fall in wholesale crop prices.
The protests have centered around two demands: waiver of farm loans and remunerative crop prices in line with the recommendations of the M.S. Swaminathan Commission.