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Maharashtra farm loan waiver: Online application process confounds farmers; lakhs fail to sign up

It's been 50 days since Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis announced a farm loan waiver to the tune of Rs 34,000 crore. The announcement was made on 24 June and the online process was to start 30 days later, on 24 July. However, given the red tape involved, the lack of coordination among the various departments, a complicated online form that needs to be filled out, and inadequate data available with the state government, the loan waiver scheme is still to see the light of day.

Out of the 90 lakh farmers in the state, only 12 lakh have enrolled for the loan waiver scheme, of which only 10 lakh have actually applied. In the same 50 days, meanwhile, over 100 farmers have also committed suicide. In the last eight days alone, 34 farmers committed suicide in Marathwada region of the state, the government said in a report on Wednesday. The region has again witnessed below-average rainfall this monsoon.

Marathwada has again received deficient rainfall this year. Getty images

Marathwada has again received deficient rainfall this year. Getty images

The process of applying online is considered to be far too tedious, and Opposition parties like Congress and NCP have demanded a simplified version of the online application.

As per data released on Wednesday by state cooperation minister Subhash Deshmukh, 12,38,000 farmers have enrolled for the loan waiver scheme. Of them, 10,11,000 have actually applied for scheme. The online form was made available on 24 July and the data is over the 23 days since. There are 26,000 centres across the state open for filling online forms, Deshmukh added. In the last one week alone, he said, around 1.25 lakh farmers have filed their applications online.

Farm loans of upto Rs 1.5 lakh will be waived per farmer under the state's scheme, and a total of 89 lakh farmers were originally meant to be covered by this. However, in the last eight days, 34 farmers committed suicide in Marathwada region of Maharashtra, a government report said on Wednesday. The region has seen below-average rainfall this monsoon so far.

Congress MLC Satej Patil slammed the government over the move, saying the forms are far too complex and most farmers are unable to understand the process. He claimed there are far too many unnecessary columns in the form, and said no farmer would be able to fill it up without outside help. The Kolhapur legislator added that the government is only making announcements and actual implementation of schemes and promises has been stuck in limbo. He also called out a lack of coordination between the state's agriculture, cooperative and revenue departments. "Which has led to farmers endlessly running helter-skelter to get what should have been rightfully theirs and without any fuss," he added.

Opposition leader Dhananjay Munde also criticised the Maharashtra government, accusing it of shirking its responsibility at a time when farmers are committing suicide in Marathwada. A prolonged dry spell in this region between 2012 and 2015 has created a situation of acute drought. "It's been 48 days since the region last received a single drop of water. At a time when farmers are committing suicide, the Fadnavis government is sleeping," Munde, who is from Beed in Marathwada region, said.

In the last eight days, 34 farmers have killed themselves in Marathwada, while over 580 have done so in the last eight months. "The government was busy trying to figure out whom to provide benefits of the loan waiver to, but not a single rupee has been allocated to the farmers since the loan waiver was announced on 24 June. It's shameless of Fadnavis," he added.

Munde further said the government has lost the trust of farmers, and the only way to regain this trust is by making the online application form simpler.

Updated Date: Aug 17, 2017 19:43 PM

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