Lucknow: Fulfilling the promise made by the BJP in its election manifesto, UP chief minister Yogi Adityanath announced on Tuesday that all loans of small and medium farmers up to Rs 1 lakh will be waived off — a burden of Rs 36, 359 crore on the state exchequer.
UP minister Siddharth Nath Singh said this includes the loan amount of Rs 5,630 crore taken by about 7 lakh additional farmers.
The minister said that the cutoff year for the loans would be the financial year 2016-2017.
The number of farmers who will benefit from this is around 86 lakhs. There are a total of 2.15 crore medium and small farmers in the state.
If the state government had waived off the aggregate loans of farmers without putting the Rs 1 lakh limit, the financial burden would have been around Rs 62,000 crore.
Though the government spokesman did not say so, sources in the finance department said that the UP government will either take loans from the Centre or other financial institutions to bear the financial burden.
The state government is already bearing an additional burden of Rs 25,000 after implementing the recommendations of the seventh pay commission.
The announcement came in the first Cabinet meeting of the new Yogi Adityanath government held on Tuesday.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during his election campaign in the state, had promised that loan waiver for farmers would be done in the first Cabinet meeting if the BJP came to power.
The CM had delayed the Cabinet meeting ostensibly to work out the modalities of the scheme.
Interestingly, it was the Congress that had raised the issue of loan waiver for farmers in August last year when Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi got over one crore farmers to list details of their debt burden. He later met the PM asking him to waive off their loans.
The Centre maintained a studied silence on the issue but when the BJP released its manifesto, it promised loan waiver for farmers, and then on February 13, during an election rally in Lakhimpur district, Mr Modi said that if the BJP came to power, it would waive off the loans of farmers in UP.
The CM also discussed the issue of development of Varanasi, the PM’s Parliamentary constituency. The CM asked the ministers concerned to work in a specified timeframe to develop the heritage city. It may be recalled that the PM had promised to turn Varanasi into Kyoto, a heritage city of Japan.
The state Cabinet also approved the formation of Anti-Romeo Squads, but asked the police personnel not to harass young couples without a valid reason.
The Cabinet decided to set up 7,000 wheat purchase centres and added a sum of Rs 10 per quintal as transportation charges, payable to farmers on the minimum support price.