Loan waiver will benefit 17 lakh Vidarbha farmers: Anil Deshmukh

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Nagpur, Mar 4 (UNI) Nearly 17 lakh cultivators will get a relief of Rs 1,700 crore in Vidarbha because of the Centre's decision to waive off loans of small and marginal farmers, according to Maharashtra Minister for Public Works Anil Deshmukh.

Speaking to newspersons here yesterday, Mr Deshmukh said nearly 68 per cent of the farmers in Vidarbha held less than 5 acres of land, and would, therefore, benefit from the move. Union Minister for Agriculture Sharad Pawar had originally submitted a proposal to write off loans to the tune of Rs 1,10,000 crore, but the cabinet approved a waiver of only Rs 60,000 crore, he said.

The decision might not have provided relief to all farmers, but decisions at the Centre were made with the entire country in mind and not for a particular region or state, Mr Deshmukh said. There could, therefore, be discrepancies between states and within a state, he added, referring to criticism that the loan waiver would be of greater benefit to farmers in western Maharashtra as compared to those in Vidarbha and Marathwada.

Criticising the Shiv Sena and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for trying to take credit for the decision, Mr Deshmukh said it was unfair to disapprove the five acre ceiling. ''The opposition parties did not waive off loans on a holding of even one acre,'' the minister said.

Mr Pawar had given sufficient indication of the move, and the opposition parties had immediately launched their agitations for loan waiver merely with the intention of grabbing credit, he said.

Mr Deshmukh said the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) would hold a farmers' convention here tomorrow to thank Mr Pawar for the decision. The rally was part of a series of six that the party was holding across the state, adding that one had already been held in Akola on March 2 and in Kolhapur today, while others were scheduled to be held in Jalgaon tomorrow, Thane on March 7 and Beed on March 8.

The rally in Nagpur tomorrow would be attended by Union Minister of State for Civil Aviation Praful Patel, Deputy Chief Minister R R Patil, Maharashtra Minister for Water Resources Ajit Pawar and Minister for Forests Babanrao Pachpute, among others, he added.

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