Pawar meets Modi, demands farm loan waiver in Maharashtra

NEW DELHI, Nov 20:
As speculation spirals over government formation in Maharashtra, NCP president Sharad Pawar met Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday to seek his urgent intervention in addressing farmer distress in the state.
Pawar said in a memorandum that he brought the “alarming situation” to the prime minister’s notice and demanded a “complete and unconditional” farm loan waiver in the wake of the recent damage due to unseasonal rains.
Asked by reporters about government formation in Maharashtra, the NCP chief declined to comment.
The Pawar-Modi meeting, which went on for 50 minutes, took place in the backdrop of hectic parleys between the Congress-NCP and the Shiv Sena to form government in Maharashtra.
Two days ago, Modi praised NCP MPs for their decision to not enter the Well of the house during proceedings.
Maharashtra has been under the President’s rule since November 12.
Leaders of the Congress-NCP will also be meeting here Wednesday evening to discuss the possibility of an alliance with the Shiv Sena.
“Met @PMOIndia Shri. Narendra Modi in Parliament today to discuss the issues of farmers in Maharashtra. This year, the seasonal has created havoc engulfing talukas in Maharashtra, causing heavy damage of crops over 54.22 lakh hectares of areas.
“To take stock of this unprecedented situation and address the concerns of distressed farmers, I had visited Nashik and Vidarbha in the first half of November,” Pawar tweeted.
This year, the returning monsoon devastated almost every standing crop in major parts of Maharashtra, he said.
In a three-page memorandum, Pawar said crops like soyabean, paddy, finger millet, corns, bajra and vegetables like tomato and onion were at the harvesting stage in Nashik district but incessant and unseasonable rains completely ruined them.
He said 44 farmers from Nashik have committed suicide in the face of the crisis in the last 10 months.
“Due to President’s rule in the state, your urgent intervention is highly necessitated. I shall be grateful if you could take immediate steps to initiate massive relief measures to ameliorate distressed farmers,” the memorandum said.
He also demanded that farmers be given zero per cent credit to raise new crops and also save them from private money lenders and finance companies.
In Nagpur, cotton crops over 35,000 hectares have been damaged due to unseasonal rains, Pawar stated.
He said the Maharashtra governor recently announced Rs 8,000 per hectare for agricultural crops and Rs 18,000 per hectare for horticulture crops, which are too inadequate to compensate the losses faced by farmers.
The former Union Agriculture minister also recalled that drought affected farmers received Rs 30,000 per hectare for saving orchards in 2012-13 during his tenure and farmers should now be given a similar amount.
Pawar also apprised Modi about a conference, ‘Sustainability-Innovation and Diversification in Sugar and Allied Industry’ to be organised by the Vasantdada Sugar Institute (VSI) from January 31 to February 2, 2020.
Modi had inaugurated an international conference organised by the VSI in Pune in 2016. (PTI)