Yogi's UP to waive farm loans worth Rs36,359 cr; float bonds

Delivering on Bharatiya Janata Party's election promise to waive loan repayment for small and marginal farmers, the Yogi Adityanath cabinet on Tuesday decided to waive their crop loans up to Rs1 lakh, totalling a staggering Rs36,359 crore, at its very first meeting.

The move will benefit over 2.15 crore farmers, besides seven lakh others who had secured loans which turned into non-performing assets (NPAs).

The Yogi Adityanath cabinet decided to float Kisan Rahat Bonds for raising the Rs36,359 crore required for waiving loans of small and marginal farmers who form 92.5 per cent of the total 2.30 lakh farmers in the state.

The decision comes a fortnight after Adityanath took over the reins of the state on 19 March when BJP and its allies stormed to power capturing 325 seats in the 403-member Assembly, an over three-fourth majority.

Briefing mediapersons after a 90-minute meeting of the cabinet, senior ministers Siddharth Nath Singh and Srikant Sharma said Rs 30,729 crore was required for waiving loans of small and marginal farmers.

Besides, there were about seven lakh other farmers who had taken loans which turned into NPAs. Their outstanding dues of Rs5,630 crore have also been written off.

The loan waiver promise was made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and state party president Keshav Prasad Maurya and ''it is the duty of the government to fulfil the promise made in BJP's 'sankalp patra' (manifesto) and the Yogi government was moving ahead in this direction'', the ministers said.

In the past, farmers in the state had suffered because of successive droughts and hailstorms.

Singh said the Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management (FRBM) Act mandated that no state can allow its fiscal deficit to grow beyond three per cent of its GDP. Hence, funds for meeting the expenditure on loan waiver would be raised through Kisan Rahat Bonds.

Taking into account the problems faced by potato growers, who face immense hardship in case of bumper crops, the cabinet decided to set up a three-member committee headed by deputy chief minister Keshav Prasad Maurya to see how they can get adequate remuneration for their produce.

Wheat MSP hiked
The ministers said the cabinet also decided to raise by Rs10 per quintal the minimum support price for wheat procurement as loading and unloading charges. The MSP for wheat is currently Rs1,680 per quintal.

A target of 80 lakh metric tonnes of wheat procurement has been fixed for this season, and in the first phase, half of it will be procured, they said. The ministers said instructions have been issued to ensure direct procurement from farmers and that they should not be harassed.

Illegal mining
In order to check illegal mining, the cabinet decided to constitute a group of ministers. The GoM headed by Maurya will give its report in a week.

The ministers said the cabinet also took up the issue of investments in UP for setting up industries so the youth get better employment opportunities in the state itself.

For this, a five-member GoM headed by another deputy chief minister Dinesh Sharma has been constituted. It would visit other states and study their industrial policies.

The GoM will study the policies of BJP-ruled states like Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh among others for preparing an industrial policy for UP for enhanced investment through a single window system.