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Maharashtra proposes interest-free crop loans

Wednesday March 23, 2011 09:11:16 PM, IANS

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Mumbai: Maharashtra farmers will get crop loans without interest and at subsidised interest, state Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar, who also holds the finance ministry portfolio, proposed in his annual budget for 2011-12 Wednesday.

According to the proposal, farmers who repay their crop loans within the stipulated period can avail interest-free loans for amounts up to Rs.50,000 and at 2 percent interest for amounts between Rs.50,000 and Rs.300,000, Pawar said while presenting the budget.

He also announced a provision of Rs.84.28 crore for the payment of the interest subsidy under this scheme.

Pawar said that since the past three years, the government has been maintaining buffer stocks of fertilisers, which are made available to the farmers as per need.

This scheme shall be continued during the next kharif (harvest) season also and a provision of Rs.51.50 crore has been made for the purpose.

The budget also proposed a subsidy of Rs.2,500 crore for providing electricity to 3.1 million agricultural pumps in the state to help augment the income of the farmers.

By the end of the current fiscal, the electric connection will be provided to 275,000 agricultural pumps and efforts are underway to achieve power connection on demand from April onwards, the minister said.

In order to speed up programme of electrification of agricultural pumps and clear the backlog, Pawar announced a provision of Rs.80 crore during next year.

Reacting to the proposals, a Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti (VJAS) leader said that the decision to give zero and 2 percent interest rate loans is "a welcome step".

However, this could be availed only by farmers who are prompt in repayment, VJAS president Kishor Tiwari added.

For the over three million debt-trapped farmers not covered by banks who are forced to borrow money from private sources and local money-lenders, Tiwari urged for a bail-out package which would help end farmland suicides, especially in Vidarbha region of eastern Maharashtra.






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