Farmers' strike: Maharashtra govt announces loan waiver; agitations have been 'temporarily' called off

Mumbai: The Maharashtra government on Sunday announced a loan waiver for farmers and decided to form a committee to decide the criteria of debt relief, after which cultivators called off their protests.

"The government has, in principle, decided to waive farmers' loans with certain stipulations. The loans of farmers with small and medium land holdings stand waived from today (Sunday) itself," revenue minister Chandrakant Patil said.

Patil, who headed a high-power committee set up by chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, was speaking to reporters after holding discussions with farmer leaders in Mumbai on Sunday. Fadnavis said the state government had agreed to the loan waiver for farmers, adding that conditions and details will be finalised by a joint committee.

"Discussions between the government of Maharashtra and representatives of farmers have reached a consensus and farmers have called off the strike," Fadnavis said.

"The government has also accepted the demand of farmers to increase the milk prices," the CM tweeted after the meeting.

He said that the milk societies will have to agree with 70:30 formula of profit sharing on the lines of sugar industry.

The move is expected to benefit 1.07 crore farmers in the state, who have land holdings of less than five acres, a farmer leader said. He said the loans of such small and medium farmers, worth Rs 30,000 crore, have been waived.

Meanwhile, the revenue minister said cases against those who participated in the farmers stir will be withdrawn, except in certain matters.

MP Raju Shetti, the leader of Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghtana, said if the government fails to fulfil its commitments, they would restart their agitation from 25 July.

 Farmers strike: Maharashtra govt announces loan waiver; agitations have been temporarily called off

File image of Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis. PTI

"Our issues have been resolved. We have decided to temporarily call off our agitation, including the dharna protests scheduled for tomorrow (Monday) and day after (Tuesday). However, if no satisfactory decision is taken (on the criterion for loan waiver) by 25 July, we will restart our stir," Shetti said.

Shiv Sena minister Diwakar Raote said "I was a representative of Sena in the talks. I said the Sena was with the agitators. Fadnavis, in today's (Sunday's) discussions, agreed in principle to the demands."

Dhanajya Dhorade, a farmer leader from Puntamba where the stir first began, said he was happy that the agitation was successful and demands of the farmers were met.

Another farmer leader, Raghunathdada Patil, said the minister had assured them that "all loans" of farmers will be waived.

The ministers' group has decided to restart fresh loan disbursal to farmers from Sunday, Raghunathdada said.

"We are calling off the road and rail roko protests scheduled for tomorrow and 13 June," independent MLA Bachu Kadu said.

Fadnavis had on Friday announced the formation of the six-member committee to look into the various demands of farmers, including the loan waiver.

On 1 June, farmers from a village in Ahmednagar district went on strike followed by many farmers groups in other parts, who tried to suspend vegetable and milk supply to Mumbai.

Updated Date: Jun 12, 2017 06:45:27 IST