A few months ahead of Assembly elections, the AIADMK government in Tamil Nadu on Friday announced waiver of Rs 12,110 crore crop loans availed by 16.43 lakh farmers from cooperative banks.
Making the announcement in the state assembly, Chief Minister K Palaniswami said the scheme would come into immediate effect and a Government Order shall be issued while the required financial allocation would be made in the interim budget.
Asserting 'Iam a farmer too,' Palaniswami said it was his first duty to address the grievances of the farming people and ruling party MLAs welcomed his announcement by thunping the desks while the opposition benches were vacant.
The principal opposition party DMK, which staged a walk out ahead of the Governor's address on February 2, had already announced boycott of the session. Assembly elections are likely in April or early May in Tamil Nadu.
The waiver would pave the way for 16.43 lakh farmers to continue cultivation without any hassles, Palaniswami said.
In his reaction, DMK chief M K Stalin said since he has been promising crop loan waiver after his party assumed power, Palaniswami has now made the announcement as the Chief Minister had no other option.
He was addressing a poll campaign in Tuticorin.
Palaniswami has not waived the loan considering the farmers welfare but out of selfishness, eyeing the Assembly elections, Stalin said, adding "people know this very well."
Palaniswami, targeting the DMK, said the party had promised two acres of land to landless farmers in the run up to 2006 Assembly polls, but they could not fulfill the promise and people knew it and it is the truth.
Similarly, during 2019 Lok Sabha polls, leader of opposition and DMK chief Stalin had assured waiver of farmers' crop loans in cooperative societies.
After it won 38 out of 39 constituencies, DMK forgot the promise it made to the people.
"This is the routine they follow during every election," he said, adding the AIADMK was the only party that fulfilled promises. His party gave assurances that could be honoured and also came up with fresh welfare measures, Palaniswami said.
After winning polls and retaining power in 2016, late Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa had waived Rs 5,318.73 crore farm loans, benefitting 12.02 lakh small and micro farmers. In 2017, his government provided Rs 2,247 crore drought relief to ryots.
Farmers faced travails due to COVID-19, the back to back cyclones Nivar and Burevi last year besides the unseasonal rains that caused heavy damage to crops ready for harvest, he said.
Considering their welfare, crop input assistance of Rs 1,717 crore for 16.43 lakh farmers was ordered and the amount was being credited to their bank accounts directly, he said.
Though this measure would help them, the government wanted to extend further support to help them continue farming. Also, farmers and various farmers associations have been urging the government to waive crop loans considering damage to crops, the Chief Minister said and announced the crop loan waiver.
Ministers and Deputy Speaker Pollachi V Jayaraman hailed the Chief Miniser for the initiative.
Speaker P Dhanapal lauded the move on behalf of the House and MLAs could be seen walking up to Palaniswami to greet and thank him for the crop loan waiver. Some legislators touched his feet and took his blessings.
AIADMK's allies during the Lok Sabha polls, the PMK and DMDK, welcomed the announcement.
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