Mumbai: Unable to initiate the process of farm loan waivers even after two months, the State government has announced that farmers must fill forms to avail the scheme by September 15, despite its earlier promise not to set a deadline for the process.
Following a farmers’ strike throughout the State, the government had announced the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Shetkari Sanman Yojana. Under the scheme, farm loan up to ₹1.5 lakh will be waived, while farmers with debt above the limit will get an extension for the one-time payment. The government has also announced a ₹25,000 subsidy for regular farm loan payees.
To avail of these benefits, the government has asked farmers to submit online forms at around 26,000 e-service stations.
As per the recent numbers announced by the government, only 18 lakh farmers have managed to fill the forms, when official estimates say the number of beneficiaries may cross 90 lakh.
“We appeal to farmers to fill the forms online on or before September 15. We have been getting complaints that several centres are charging money from farmers for this process. The entire process is free, and centres where money is being charged have been asked to shut down. The process of depositing money into farmers’ accounts will begin on October 1,” said Cooperation Minister Subhash Deshmukh, following a meeting of the Cabinet sub-committee working on the loan waiver package.
The decision, however, means that over 70 lakh farmers will have to complete the process within the next 20 days, when only 18 lakh farmers could manage it in one month.
In the monsoon session of the State Legislature, Opposition parties had questioned the need to fill forms online, and the technical difficulties the farmers would face in doing so. Replying to the Opposition’s objections, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis had said the process was extremely easy, and it would take only three minutes to fill one form.
Ajit Nawale, convener of the farmers’ steering committee that spearheaded the agitation, said the online form-filling process was turning out to be a complete failure. “Farmers’ organisations are keeping a watch on the entire situation. We are preparing to launch the next leg of our agitation, since the government’s promise of loan waiver is turning out to be nothing but a jumla (empty promise),” he said.
Source: The Hindu