Albeit an unlikely coincidence with the American Independence Day, Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis on 4 July this year tweeted about waiving loans of over 36.10 lakh farmers across 35 districts in the biggest ever hope of redeeming them from their massive burden of debt.
But 50 days on, this harbinger of hope is fast transforming into disillusionment as despite the announcement of the state's biggest ever loan waiver scheme of Rs 34,000 crore, the state has so far not succeeded in identifying the beneficiary farmers.
Fadnavis' tweet in July gave the number of farmers in each of the 35 districts who will be benefitted from this waiver but till now there is not a single name against these numbers. The chief minister's tweet had said that there are 694 farmers from Mumbai city and 119 from its suburbs who would be covered under this scheme.
In the list of 35 districts, Wardha in Vidarbha is missing.
— CMO Maharashtra (@CMOMaharashtra) July 3, 2017
In a shocking information received by RTI activist Anil Galgali, the state government confirmed that it does not have records of the farmers of Mumbai city and its suburbs. Fadnavis had tweeted that a total of 813 farmers from Mumbai were included in the Chattrapati Shivaji Maharaj Farmers' Welfare scheme.
However, as the RTI response revealed the record of farmers in Mumbai are not available with the Department of Co-Operation, Marketing and Textiles.
"The state government does not have the list of farmers with their names and the list is with the bankers," said Galgali.
"It has surprised everyone including me. The Fadnavis government doesn't have any list in its records and without cross-verification, Fadnavis had put out the data in public. It's a serious lapse by the Chief Minister's Office," he said.
Talking to Firstpost, Cooperation Minister Subhash Deshmukh said, "We do not have name and numbers of the farmers in every district. The information gathering process is going on. It takes time. The data available to us ís from the state level Bankers Committee and according to that information Fadnavis tweeted the number of beneficiaries."
Deshmukh said that data was prepared after taking information from all co-operative banks.
The chief minister had announced a Rs 34,000 crore loan waiver on 24 June and the online process of form submission is on since 24 July. But, as per the data released by Deshmukh, 10,11,000 farmers have applied for the loan waiver scheme online till 16 August.
"Till 16 August, 12,38,000 farmers have enrolled for the loan waiver scheme, while 10,11,000 have actually applied for it," the minister said.
The state has opened 26,000 centres across the state open for filling online form, he said. In the last one week, around 1 lakh to 1.25 lakh farmers had filed their applications, said Deshmukh.
However, the opposition parties are unamused with the whole scheme.
"It's a mere jugglery of arithmetic. BJP and especially Fadnavis are known for giving false assurances. BJP is misleading the people in the name of Maratha warrior king Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj," said senior NCP leader and former deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar.
"After almost two months of the loan waiver announcement, show me one single farmer who can claim that his or her Rs 1.5 lakh loan has been waived," said Pawar.
Out of 13 crore population of Maharashtra, hardly 5 percent are on social media especially Twitter.
The Fadnavis government had announced that debt up to Rs 1.5 lakh will be written off for each farmer covered by the scheme.
"There are several mistakes in the numbers provided by the chief minister. If we see the terms and conditions of the loan waiver, it is doubtful that scheme will actually reach the real farmers," former chief minister and Congress state president Ashok Chavan told Firstpost.
Allaying fears of delay, Fadnavis assured party workers besides the Opposition that loans will be waived only after a thorough enquiry confirming that the receiver is bona fide.
Updated Date: Aug 17, 2017 22:33 PM