Madras High Court Tells Tamil Nadu To Waive All Farm Loans Amid Protest In Delhi

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The Madras High Court has directed Tamil Nadu to expand its farm loan waiver scheme (file)

Chennai:  In an order that would bring relief to thousands of farmers in drought hit Tamil Nadu, the Madras High Court has directed the state government to expand its farm loan waiver scheme to include farmers who own more than five acres.

Fulfilling its poll promise, last year the then Jayalalithaa government had waived farm loans with cooperative banks availed by small farmers owning up to five acres. This cost the government nearly 6,000 crores.

The petitioner Ayyakanu, a farmer who's protesting in Delhi with skulls, had sought waiver of farm loans for all farmers including those with medium and large land holdings.

Cooperative bank loans account for only around 11 per cent of total farm loans. With farmers suffering a second consecutive crop loss due to unprecedented drought and Karnataka's refusal to release Tamil Nadu's share of Cauvery waters as ordered by the Supreme Court, the farmers in the state are now demanding waiver of loans obtained from commercial and nationalised banks as well.

Cauvery Dhanabalan, who heads the Cauvery Farmers Association, says "Farm loans from nationalised banks form the bulk and in this kind of a situation there would be real relief if government waives all loans for farmers."

It's not clear yet if the Tamil Nadu government would challenge the order or extend relief to farmers. This order comes at a time when the state's finances are reportedly in bad shape.

However, farmers say their woes will end only if the central government constitutes the Cauvery Management Board as directed by the Cauvery Tribunal so that an independent body could distribute Cauvery waters to the riparian states.

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