04 April, Chennai
The Madras High Court has directed the Tamil Nadu government to waive crop loans availed by all the farmers from cooperative banks. Hearing a petition filed by a farmers association at the Madurai Bench of the High Court, a Division Bench comprising justices S.Nagamuthu and MV Muralidharan have said irrespective of the land holding of farmers, all crop loans from cooperative banks should be waived.
The court has also asked the authorities to halt any penal action against the defaulters who are in distress due to unprecedented drought. The verdict comes at a time when farmers are agitating in Delhi Jantar Mantar for the past three weeks seeking relief packages and establishing Cauvery Management Board.
AIR correspondent reports that the government earlier announced that outstanding cooperative bank loans of farmers owing up to five acres of land only would be waived off. It amounts to 5780 crore rupees for the state exchequer that is in a bad shape due to mounting debt.
The High Court verdict would necessitate spending about thousand nine hundred and eighty crore rupees more, covering an additional three lakh farmers. However, crop loans from cooperative banks amount to just about 11 percent while the rest of them have been availed from nationalized banks.
As the farmers are reeling under severe stress due to two successive years of drought, the high court intervention comes as a relief.