Almost immediately after the elections, the state government had announced the crop loan waiver scheme with much fanfare. Under the scheme, crop loans up to Rs 1 lakh were to be waived off for small and marginal farmers. The whole scheme has been reduced to a farce.
Cabinet ministers are shown ceremoniously distributing loan waiver certificates to farmers across districts. However, it turns out that many of the beneficiary farmers have received waivers of amounts as petty as Re 1 or Rs 1.50!
A farmer in Etawah’s Aheripur village, who took a loan of Rs 28,000, received a waiver of Rs 1.80. Another farmer in Mukutpur who borrowed more than Rs 2 lakh got a waiver of Rs 1.50. In another case reported from Bijnor, Baliya Devi got a loan waiver of a mere 9 paise. In a ceremony organised at Hamirpur, the labour and employment minister handed over a loan waiver certificate for the amount of Rs 215.03 to a farmer Munni Lal who had borrowed Rs 50,000.
In Mirzapur, farmers staged a protest before state finance minister Rajesh Agrawal against this fraud move of the government.
According to state figures, during the first phase of the scheme, 34,262 received loan waivers worth Rs 1 to Rs 1000. Out of them, 4,814 received Rs 1 to Rs 100.
In the run up to the assembly polls, Prime Minister Narendra Modi promised that if BJP is voted to power in the state, loan waivers will be the top priority at the first cabinet meet. For this, an arrangement of Rs 36,000 crore was made in the budget and it was claimed that it would benefit 86,000 farmers. The whole exercise was thereafter reduced to a farcical episode of measly amounts being waived off.
It has been pointed out by many activists for peasants’ rights that governments have appropriated thousands of crores of rupees from farmers over the last 50 years. In the name of increasing food production after the 1966-67 famine, the interests of farmers were ignored and the prices of their produce were suppressed on the excuse of keeping food grains affordable. It is common knowledge that while the producers were being pauperized, the working people in the city were constantly facing food inflation!
In addition to this, the burden of subsidised food to the poor was also passed on to farmers. It is now time for farmers to be paid back – and they are demanding that they be given not just loan waivers but guarantee of income.