"Will the farmers of Nashik have to resort to suicide this year too?" aMaya Khodve, a social activist and community correspondent asks the Maharashtra Chief Minister, as she covers the Nashik district's farmers agitation against the Nashik District Central Co-operative Bank (NDCC) Bank. The bank has refused to provide crop loans to around one lakh farmers in the district, leaving them no other way but to resort to taking loan at heavy interest from private moneylenders. This is in spite of directives from the state department which states that the farmers' loan needs need to be fulfilled. "Cooperative banks and other banks must fulfil 80% of the farmers' loan needs, farmers from all districts will get loans, etc. Despite such statements, farmers aren't granted loans. This is sad," says Raju Deshle, an activist himself.
The inability of pay high-interest loans to private moneylenders and the humiliation thereby, are few of the primary reasons that Indian farmers commit suicide when their crop fails. To combat this evil, the State Government, one of the most farmer suicide affected states had passed the Money Lending (Regulation) Act, 2008 to regulate all private money lending to farmers to rid the burden of debt at usurious rates of interest. The bill set maximum 'not legally allowed interest rates' on any loans to farmers, setting it to be slightly above the money lending rate by Reserve Bank of India, and it also covered pending loans and created crop loans to help farmers avoid taking money from private moneylenders. However, the denial for giving such loans to one lakh farmers will raise serious concerns amongst farmers who will see no way but to resort to taking high-interest loans as a last resort.
More than 100 farmers have committed suicide in Nashik division till April 2016 - a figure that represents the hardship the district's farmers are facing because of climate change in this north Maharashtra region. While on one side, banks like State Bank of India write off loans worth thousands of crores against wilful defaulters such as the millionaire Vijay Mallya, the NDCC's unscrupulous behaviour of limiting their loans towards farmers shows disdain of the authorities towards the sons of soil. Why are our priorities so misplaced?
Maya has raised this concern and sent this video to the Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis in September.
Community correspondent Maya Khodve reports from Maharashtra for Video Volunteers.
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