Don’t slash farm loan waiver amount: Congress tells Maha govt

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Nagpur, Sept 25 (PTI): Congress leader and former chief minister of Maharashtra Prithviraj Chavan on Monday said the state government should spend the entire amount earmarked for waiver of farm loans though the number of beneficiaries is expected to be lower than the earlier estimates. The government had announced a mega agri loan waiver of Rs 34,022 crore on June 24 after a state-wide agitation by farmers earlier that month. The government had set a cap of Rs 1.50 lakh for the loan waiver. Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis had then said 89 lakh farmers would benefit from the scheme. However, it now appears only around 58 lakh farmers have applied for loan waiver. Chavan said the original loan waiver amount should not be trimmed and suggested the entire sum be used to write off debts of agriculturists.

“I demand the Rs 34,000-crore figure be maintained and 58 lakh farmers be given benefit without any limit (on loans taken by them),” the Congress leader said. Chavan was speaking to the media during his visit to the city. He said since the BJP-led government has set aside a particular amount for implementing the scheme, it should stick to that figure though the number of applicants has come down. “I will strongly protest if the government reduces the waiver amount and tries to save money. They made a provision for Rs 34,000 crore and advertised it throughout the country.

“Now they should make good on their promise and spend the entire amount to waive loans of farmers,” the former Union minister said. To a question, Chavan said the Fadnavis government is shielding ministers Prakash Mehta and Subhash Desai who, he maintained, are facing “very serious” corruption charges. These ministers should be removed from their posts and an inquiry under a retire High Court judge be initiated against them, the former CM demanded. “We demand a judicial inquiry (commission) be set up to probe charges against the ministers and also (IAS officer Radheshyam) Mopalwar,” Chavan said. In early August, Mopalwar was removed as managing director of the state government undertaking MSRDC after surfacing of audio clips in which he was purportedly heard fixing a deal for a plot of land in Mumbai.

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