State think-tank wants to further ease loan waiver scheme

TNN | Jul 13, 2017, 04.10 AM IST
Nagpur: Vasantrao Naik Shetkari Swavalamban Mission (VNSSM), a state government think tank on agriculture, has put forth proposals to further relax conditions of the farm loan waiver scheme. This comes after Devendra Fadnavis announced extension of the scheme to cover farmers who had defaulted on loans from April 1, 2009, to June 30, 2016, also. The earlier plan only covered defaults from April 2012 to June-end 2017.

"The announcement on expanding the scope was made a week ago. A government resolution (GR), which is the formal order, has not been issued yet. It may be done soon with some of the relaxed norms also incorporated in the document," Kishore Tiwari, director of VNSSM, told TOI.

A farm activist earlier, Tiwari was appointed as VNSSM chief in the BJP regime. He said discussions are underway with state government officials to ease certain conditions for farmers to qualify for the waiver scheme. The objective behind the suggestions is to ensure that no genuine farmer is left out due to the conditions.

The present structure limits the waiver to one person in a family. The scheme is not applicable to a person if any of his family numbers file income tax returns. Discussions are underway to do away with these two conditions.

"In case there are separate units within a family, with each one tilling different pieces of land, and living independently, then each member has to be considered separately. There may be some members filing income tax returns too, but may be leading independent lives," said Tiwari.

The relaxations are being considered on the basis of suggestions received from farmers. A large number of suggestions were received, out of which the relevant ones are being considered. The matter is being discussed with chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, said Tiwari.
There were suggestions to provide higher incentives to farmers who have made regular repayments of their loans as on March 2016. Under the present scheme, farmers who have regular loan accounts will be getting an incentive capped at Rs25,000. A proposal to enhance the amount has been put forth. "Such farmers need to be rewarded, so that they are motivated," he said.

Tiwari hopes that VNSSM's proposal will be approved. Even earlier suggestions like doing away with land holding limit and expanding the scope till 2009 were accepted, he said.