Police detain NCP farmers during a protest as part of their Maharashtra bandh over various demands in Nagpur. (PTI)

Maharashtra Government Announces Loan Waiver; Farmers Call Off Protests 

The Maharashtra government announced a loan waiver for farmers and decided to form a committee to decide the criteria of debt relief after which cultivators called off their protests.

"The government has, in principle, decided to waive farmers' loans with certain stipulations. The loans of farmers with small and medium land holdings stand waived from today itself," Revenue Minister Chandrakant Patil said.

Patil, who headed a high-power committee set up by Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, was speaking to reporters after holding discussions with farmer leaders.

Fadnavis said the state government had agreed to the farm loan waiver, adding that conditions and details will be finalised by a joint committee.

"Discussions between the government of Maharashtra and representatives of farmers have reached a consensus and farmers have called off the strike," Fadnavis said.

He said that the milk societies will have to agree with 70:30 formula of profit sharing on the lines of sugar industry.

The move is expected to benefit 1.07 crore farmers in the state, who have land holdings of less than five acres, a farmer leader said. He said the loans of such small and medium farmers, worth Rs 30,000 crore, have been waived.

Meanwhile, the revenue minister said cases against those who participated in the farmers stir will be withdrawn, except in certain matters.

Member of Parliament Raju Shetti, the leader of Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghtana, said if the government fails to fulfil its commitments, they would restart their agitation from July 25.

Our issues have been resolved. We have decided to temporarily call off our agitation, including the dharna protests scheduled for tomorrow and day after. However, if no satisfactory decision is taken (on the criterion for loan waiver) by July 25, we will restart our stir.
Raju Shetti, Leader, Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghtana

Shiv Sena minister Diwakar Raote said, "I was a representative of Sena in the talks. I said the Sena was with the agitators. Fadnavis, in today's (Sunday) discussions, agreed in principle to the demands."

Dhanajya Dhorade, a farmer leader from Puntamba where the stir first began, said he was happy that the agitation was successful and demands of the farmers were met.

Another farmer leader, Raghunathdada Patil, said the minister had assured them that "all loans" of farmers will be waived.

"The atmosphere now is like a Diwali celebration. 100 percent of our demands have been accepted," he said.

The ministers' group has decided to restart fresh loan disbursal to farmers from Sunday, Raghunathdada said.

"We are calling off the road and rail roko protests scheduled for tomorrow and June 13," independent MLA Bachu Kadu said.

"However, if the decision taken today is not implemented before July 24, the farmers will resume their agitation," Kadu said.

Fadnavis had on Friday announced the formation of the six-member committee to look into the various demands of farmers, including the loan waiver.

On June 1, farmers from a village in Ahmednagar district went on strike followed by many farmers groups in other parts, who tried to suspend vegetable and milk supply to Mumbai.