Nagpur: Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis on Tuesday strongly defended the farm loan waiver scheme, saying the state government had cleared authorization of ₹ 22,000 crore and asked banks to deposit this amount into the accounts of beneficiaries.
“Of this amount, banks have already withdrawn Rs15,000 crore and deposited it into farmers’ accounts. To date, more than 3.8 million farmers have actually benefited from the loan waiver and one time settlement scheme," Fadnavis said at a press conference on the eve of the monsoon session of the state legislature beginning on 4 July in Nagpur.
Fadnavis said another 300,000 farmers would be added as beneficiaries since the government had made those who had taken loans between 2001 and 2009 eligible for the scheme, taking the total number of beneficiaries to nearly 6 million.
The chief minister admitted that the kharif season crop credit disbursement in the state has been low at only 25% of the target but said his government’s overall performance on annual crop credit disbursement was better than that of the previous government.
“The average annual crop credit disbursement during the five years of the previous government was between Rs17,000 crore and Rs18,000 crore. But in three years from 2015-16 to 2017-18 banks have disbursed Rs40,000 crore, Rs46,000 crore, and Rs25,000 crore respectively," Fadnavis said.
The chief minister said all efforts were being made to get the banks to ramp up the credit coverage. “It is not as low as 7-8% claimed by the opposition but it is low and needs to be increased by the banks," he said.
Fadnavis also rejected the opposition charge that the government had not procured farm produce from the farmers at the minimum support price (MSP). The government had purchased more than 336,000 metric tonnes of tur daal (pigeon pea) from farmers for Rs1,825 crore at the MSP of Rs5,450 per quintal and more than 194,000 metric tonnes of gram for Rs857 crore at the MSP of Rs4,400 per quintal in 2017-18 alone, he said.
“The previous governments purchased pulses and oilseeds worth Rs426 crore only between 2001 and 2014. But in just three and half years since 2014, my government has purchased this produce worth Rs8,000 crore at the MSP," Fadnavis said.
The government procurement of farm produce has been so high in the last four years that the Maharashtra government alone has had to scale up its warehousing capacity by 300,000 metric tonnes, he said.
Fadnavis also debunked the opposition charge that cotton farmers whose crop was damaged by the pink boll-worm attack in 2017 had not been given the promised compensation of Rs37,500 per hectare. More than 180,000 farmers had been given the crop insurance of Rs2,100 crore by insurance companies and disbursement of an additional Rs237 crore was in the process, he said.