Assam approves ₹600 crore farm loan waiver

The Bhartiya Janta Party government in Assam has approved Rs 600 crore farm loan waiver which is estimated to benefit around eight lakh farmers of the state, a move that comes in the backdrop of agrarian crisis becoming a major issue in the run-up to the Lok Sabha elections 2019.

The decision was taken at a cabinet meeting held on Monday night. Assam is the third state to waive farm loans in the last few days after the newly formed Congress governments in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh announced it on Monday.

Kamal Nath and Bhupesh Bhagel in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh respectively waived farm loans hours after holding the office.

States which have earlier waived farm loans are Karnataka, Maharashtra, and Uttar Pradesh. Captain Amarinder Singh led Congress in Punjab has also announced farm loan waiver scheme recently.

According to the Assam government scheme, it will waive off 25 percent loan of farmers up to a maximum of Rs 25,000 of all farm debts, state government spokesperson and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Chandra Mohan Patowary said.

The waiver will be for all the loans taken through Kisan Credit Card (KCC) and from PSU banks, Mohan Patowary said.

The government has also sanctioned an interest relief scheme which will enable around 19 lakh farmers in the state to take loans at zero interest from the next financial year, he said. In other decisions, the Assam cabinet enhanced the state Freedom Fighters’ pension from Rs 20,000 to Rs 21,000.

The meeting also approved the formation of a Micro and Small Enterprises Facilitation Council to help the growth of MSME sector in the state, the minister said.

The cabinet that held its meeting on Monday also approved subsidy up to Rs 10,000 to incentivize farmers if they take the loan from Kisan Credit Card (KCC).

The Congress, left and other parties have been targeting the BJP-led central government over the issue of farm distress. The grand opposition made farm loan waiver a major electoral issue in the recent Assembly polls 2018 in which the Congress completely dethroned the ruling Bhartiya Janata Party banking on Farm Loan Waive Promise.

Congress president Rahul Gandhi said on Tuesday while addressing a press in Parliament Complex that he will not let Prime Minister Narendra Modi sleep until all farms loans have been waived.

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