Maharashtra opposition demands blanket farm loan waiver

March 11th, 2008 - 11:00 pm ICT by admin  

Mumbai, March 11 (IANS) Unhappy with the central government’s announcement of a loan waiver for small and marginal farmers, Maharashtra’s opposition Shiv Sena and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) stalled question hour of the state assembly Tuesday and demanded a blanket loan waiver for all farmers in the state. The two hectare land-holding cap stipulated in the loan waiver proposed in the union budget will deprive majority of the distressed farmers in the rain-fed regions of Vidarbha and Marathwada and also discriminate against many deserving farmers in other parts of the state, the members said.

The opposition members also raised slogans, demanding a complete loan waiver, during Governor S.C. Jamir’s address to the legislature Monday, the opening day of its budget session.

Pooh-poohing Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh’s request to the central government to grant loan waiver up to Rs.50,000 and Maharashtra Congress president Prabha Rau’s demand to raise the loan waiver cap from two hectares to five hectares, the opposition asked the state government to summarily waive off the pending loans of all those farmers who would be left out of the benefit offered by the central government.

The central government has done its bit though it is grossly inadequate and erroneous; now the state government should make it fool-proof from out of its own coffers instead of turning to the central government again with proposals that would compound the error, Leader of Opposition Ramdas Kadam and senior BJP member Gopinath Munde said.

While Union Renewable Energy minister Vilas Muttemwar (Congress), who represents Nagpur in the Lok Sabha, has supported the chief minister’s Rs.50,000 loan waiver request, Deputy Chief Minister R.R. Patil and his Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) colleagues in the cabinet have sought a raise in the land holding cap.

Whether they put a larger five-hectare cap or Rs.50,000 cap, a good number of farmers are still going to be left out and it would be wrong to presume that they are able to bear the loan burden, Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana leader Raju Shetty and Swatantra Bharat Party member Wamanrao Chatap said.

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