The Maharashtra government on Saturday announced a loan waiver of upto Rs 2 lakh for farmers, with a cut off date of September 30, 2019.
The 'Mahatma Jyotirao Phule Farmer Loan Waiver Scheme' of the newly formed Shiv Sena-Nationalist Congress Party-Congress coalition regime comes over two years after the Rs 34,000 crore loan waiver announced by the then Bharatiya Janata Party-Sena government in 2017.
Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray made the announcement in the Legislative Assembly in Nagpur on the last day of the winter session of the legislature.
"Crop loans outstanding till September 30, 2019, will be waived by my government. The upper ceiling for the amount is Rs 2 lakh. The scheme will be called Mahatma Jyotirao Phule loan waiver scheme," Thackeray said.
Besides, a special scheme would be offered for the farmers who repay their loans on time, he said.
Finance Minister Jayant Patil said the waiver would be unconditional, and details would be communicated by the chief minister's office in due course.
There was no word on how much financial burden the new scheme would put on the state treasury.
Speaking at a press conference after the session was over, chief minister Thackeray said, "The scheme will require minimum documentation and will be hassle-free.
"A film will be made for farmers' better understanding of the procedure for loan waiver...nobody will have to stand in long queues, unllike the loan waiver scheme of the previous government," he said.
Jayant Patil said those who want to avail of waiver will need to approach their bank only with Aadhaar card.
"Bank officials would take the person's thumb print and the government will transfer the amount to the loan account of the farmer," he said, adding that no online form submission will be needed.
MPs, state legislators and government employees will not receive the benefit of loan waiver, Patil said, adding that the scheme will cover farmers who cultivate fruit trees and sugarcane as well as conventional crops.
In the assembly, Leader of Opposition Devendra Fadnavis alleged that the government had not fulfilled its original promise of full loan waiver.
He also questioned the government's failure to give assistance of Rs 25,000 per hectare to farmers who suffered losses due to unseasonal rain, a demand which Thackeray himself had made before he became CM.
Fadnavis and other BJP MLAs then staged a walk out in protest. Later, speaking to reporters, Fadnavis alleged that the scheme will benefit very few farmers as most of them were already covered by his government's 2017 sceheme.
The government had cheated farmers as it was not offering a full loan waiver, he said, announcing an agitation over the issue.