The Maharashtra government on Wednesday justified the process of inviting applications online for farm loan waiver, saying it is designed to ensure only the poor and needy get benefits of the scheme.
The BJP-led state government had in June last year launched a scheme to provide Rs 34,000 crore debt relief to 89 lakh financially distressed farmers.
The opposition Congress and NCP recently alleged that even after a year, the promise of providing loan waiver to 89 lakh farmers was yet to be fulfilled.
Replying to a debate on farmers' issues in the Legislative Assembly, state Co-Operation Minister Subhash Deshmukh said the figure of Rs 34,000 crore for waiving loans of 89 lakh farmers was provided previously by the State Level Bankers Committee (SLBC).
"We wanted to ensure that only the poor and needy farmers get help of the loan waiver scheme," he said.
Justifying the online process of availing the scheme, he said, "As many as 77 lakh farmers applied online for loan waiver and after the scrutiny, 69 lakh of them were found eligible," the minister said.
The loan waiver scheme, called as the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Shetkari Sanman Yojana, will continue till all the needy farmers get its benefit, he assured.
Deshmukh claimed that in 2008 (during the previous Congress-NCP government), Rs 153 crore loan was given to 6.25 lakh non-eligible farmers.
Around 4.2 lakh farmers had produced fake certificates to claim the benefit, he said, adding that nearly 39 per cent (or nine lakh) farmers, who were eligible, could not avail the loan waiver in 2008.
The present BJP-led government saved Rs 998 crore by starting the loan waiver process online and inviting applications directly from farmers, Deshmukh said.
Pointing towards the opposition Congress and NCP members, he alleged that the district cooperative banks run by leaders of the two parties had not recovered loans given to some sugar and spinning mills.
"If they had done so, farmers could have got loans," he claimed.
Meanwhile, the minister also said that crop loans worth Rs 14,000 crore were disbursed to 20 lakh farmers in the last three months.
The government would soon introduce a law, making it mandatory that farmers do not get less price than the Minimum Support Price (MSP) for their produce, he said.
Deshmukh also informed the House that 88 per cent tur (a pulse), which amounts to 33.67 per cent of the total produce has been procured.
A grant of Rs 1,000 per quintal was being given for unprocured tur, he said.
The Centre's decision to provide the MSP, which was 1.5 times higher than the production cost, proved that all announcements made for farmers were being implemented, he added.