As Diwali Nears, Maharashtra Farmers Still Wait For Government Promise

After a prolonged protest by farmers, the Maharashtra Government had promised to hand out farm loan waivers by Diwali.

Maharashtra farmers were promised a farm loan waiver before Diwali.

Yavatmal, Maharashtra: With delays in collecting data, many fear the Maharashtra government's already-delayed process of handing out crop loan waivers announced in June this year is going to take more time.

Some farmers suspect the government's crop loan waiver scheme won't be completed before Diwali on Thursday. The government had promised it would deposit the money in loan accounts of farmers before the festival. The government says the work to complete the loan waiver is on and will be implemented soon.

An official who is connected with the loan waiver formalities on the ground told NDTV, "The data is being collated now. Once that is done it will be sent. It won't happen before Diwali. Farmers won't get help before Diwali."

The speculation of delay comes even as farmers continue to be pushed to the brink. Many of them had pinned their hopes on the loan waiver to revive their fortunes. But some have committed suicide after filling in their application forms for the loan waiver scheme.

55-year-old Shriram Kashinath Thote, who had applied for a loan waiver on September 10, hanged himself just three days later after completing the formalities. "Last year, he had a bad crop. This year he did not get a loan. So he did this. They should do things fast so that others don't do the same," Shriram Thote's son Shyam told NDTV. 

In Aakpuri village in Yavatmal district, two farmers have committed suicide after applying for the loan waiver scheme. 28-year-old Shalik Waliram Rathod hanged himself leaving behind 3-year-old son and an ageing mother. The Sarpanch of the village where his family now stays, Balkrushna Kasar, told NDTV, "Some did not have an account number. Some did not have an Aadhaar card. Some people could not link their thumb impressions with Aadhaar. This caused a lot of delay."

Prashant Nalge committed suicide just days after filling in a form for the loan waiver scheme. His brother says he understood the loan waiver was not going to help.  "Because of this situation farmers will become helpless and they won't be able pay even a single rupee and they won't be able to make use of the debt waiver by the government. The debt waiver is false, it's not benefitting the farmers and only banks will benefit," Ashish Nalge told NDTV.

Many farmers say that had the crop loan process been smoother and taken less time some lives could have been saved because many farmers have not got a fresh crop loan this year because they've not repaid the older loans and that is why some of them have been pushed to suicide. The government says the process took time as they covered many more farmers and they did not want to repeat the mistakes of the previous governments where the schemes have not helped solve the agrarian distress. 

Madan Yeravar, Guardian Minister of Yavatmal district told NDTV, "The chief minister had already said that we don't want to repeat the same mistakes pointed out by CAG reports in the earlier crop loan waiver. Banks are not asking farmers for money. Banks know the loans will be settled."

Devanand Pawar, who had earlier contested on a Congress ticket and now, heads the Shetkari Nyaya Hakka Andolan Samiti, told NDTV, "I don't think farmers will be able to celebrate Diwali. I don't think the Chief Minister is serious about this issue."
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