Some DCC Banks which have branches across many districts are yet to send complete lists of the loan-waiver beneficiaries to the government. Responding to a query on the opposition's criticism that farmers are being charged for submitting online forms for the loan-waiver scheme, Mr Phundkar said had that been the case, the administration would not have got 55 lakh applications.
On whether some eligible farmers are unable to apply due to problems in giving their thumb impressions, the minister said such cases will be considered eligible for the loan waiver in the next phase.
Bowing to protests by farmers, the state government in June had announced a Rs 34,000 crore loan waiver with caveats. Under the scheme, loans up to Rs 1.5 lakh per farmer will be waived.
On the recent deaths of farm labourers in Yavatmal district due to spraying of pesticides on cotton crops, Mr Phundkar said Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis today approved a probe under additional chief secretary (home).
Expressing regret at the deaths, he said negligence had taken place at multiple levels. Although the government did not specify the number of deaths, farm activist from Vidarbha, Kishor Tiwari, and the Shiv Sena said the pesticide exposure reported in Yavatmal district has killed 18 people so far.
Mr Phundkar said neither the district collector nor the police were aware of these cases. Announcing that the government will decide on banning imported Chinese-made pesticide spray pumps, Mr Phundkar said the cotton crops have grown to a height of almost six feet
"The contract farm labourers have to spray the pesticide from a certain height. However, due to extreme heat, the labourers wear only vests and no other protective gear like face masks," he said. He said the pesticides can get ingested into body even through skin contact.