Rajasthan announces Rs 20,000 crore farm loan waiver, farmers call off protest

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The Vasundhara Raje government on Thursday morning announced a farm loan waiver of Rs 20,000 crore. The scheme is expected to waive off loans up to Rs 50,000 for farmers, many of whom have been protesting for more than two weeks now.

Vasundhara Raje

The announcement came after the third round of meeting between the government and representatives of the protesting farmers. The meeting on Wednesday went on for 11 hours before the government decided to join the list of states like Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Punjab- that have already announced waivers for farm loans. The Raje government will now constitute a team that will study the loan waiver disbursal process applied in other states.

"We have agreed to waive loans for farmers up to Rs 50,000. A team of specialists will talk to stakeholders in other states and chart out the process of loan waiver and its impact in Rajasthan," said Prabhulal Saini, state's agriculture minister. Farmers who had been protesting for more than two weeks in the state also withdrew their protests.

The two-week protest in Sikhar saw massive road blocks, inconvenience, and traffic snarl on highways due to agitating farmers. Talks were held with an 11-member delegation of farmer representatives by cabinet ministers Prabhulal Saini, Ajay Kilak, Pushpendra Singh and Rampratap. The initial demand of the farmers included implementation of the Swaminathan committee recommendations and waiver of all loans amounting to Rs 49,500 crore. While the government agreed to introduce a waiver scheme for Rs 20,000 crore, nearly half of what was demanded, Raje government agreed to other demands placed before it by agitating farmers.

Farmers were assured that the government would purchase crops at minimum support price (MSP), increasing farmers' pension from Rs 500 to Rs 5,000, removing the ban on the sale of cattle imposed by the state government and implementation of the Swaminathan commission recommendations.

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