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Loan Waiver Provided to Maharashtra Farmers as ‘Diwali Gift’

Maharashtra farmers will get a "Diwali gift" in the form of loan waivers from October 18, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis announced on Tuesday.

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Loan Waivers announced by Maharashtra Government. IANS
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Mumbai, Oct 18: After an anxious wait of over five months, Maharashtra farmers will get a “Diwali gift” in the form of loan waiver from October 18, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis announced on Tuesday.

“From tomorrow (Wednesday), we shall start disbursal to farmers under the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Shetkari Sanman Yojana across all the districts in the state. The money would be deposited directly into their bank accounts,” Fadnavis told media persons while hosting the customary Diwali-eve lunch at his official residence, Varsha.

Admitting that it would entail a huge burden on the state exchequer, he made it clear that “providing relief to the farmers is the top priority” of the state government.

“Within the next 25-30 days, we shall clear around 80 per cent of the loan waiver disbursals. We have a software in place which has been tested and has a data base of around six million applicant-farmers,” Fadnavis added.

On reports of many “farmers” from Mumbai applying for the debt waiver scheme, he said a probe was underway and only those found genuine and eligible would be entitled for the disbursal.

Earlier, welcoming the announcement, the ruling party ally Shiv Sena claimed credit for the farm loans waiver and hoped that the entire exercise would be completed by October-end.

“It is because of the crusade we had launched that the state government had announced the loans waiver scheme for farmers,” said Shiv Sena Spokesperson and MP Sanjay Raut late on Monday.

On June 24, the state government had announced a massive Rs 34,022-crore relief package for the farmers, days after an unprecedented 11-day strike by the farming community in the state.

Under the scheme, the total number of beneficiaries were estimated to be around 8.90 million, but it is expected that over four million, mostly small and medium farmers, shall become completely debt-free, enabling them to avail fresh bank loans.

As per the available figures, around 3.61 million farmers shall be eligible for financial assistance of up to Rs 1.50 lakh each to clear their pending loans.

Interestingly, last August, a belligerent Shiv Sena had demanded that the Bharatiya Janata Party “prove its claims” that the farm loans waiver would actually benefit 8.90 million farmers, and sought a detailed list of all the beneficiaries to be tabled before the state assembly.

Similarly, Nationalist Congress Party President Sharad Pawar recently questioned the government figures that it would dole out Rs 34,022 crore for the farm loans waiver and claimed that the actual relief would be in the range of Rs 10,000 crore-Rs 12,000 crore only. (IANS)

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Delhi’s Air Quality Leads To Ban On Trucks And Construction

The measures include a ban on industries using coal and biomass, brick kilns, construction activities and entry of trucks into Delhi.

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India, air pollution, WHO, diwali, Pollution, Delhi, egypt, air quality
A man walks in front of the India Gate shrouded in smog in New Delhi, India. VOA

With no improvement in the air quality of Delhi-NCR even three days after Diwali, the environment authority on Saturday extended the ban on the entry of trucks, construction and polluting industries.

The Supreme Court-appointed Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority (EPCA) on Saturday ordered the Delhi government to extend the ban which was imposed on November 2.

Pollution, Delhi, egypt, air quality
As pollution levels spike, Delhi and its satellite towns are enveloped in a haze of smog. VOA

The restrictions imposed till November 10 were extended to November 12, by when there will be an improvement in the air quality of Delhi-NCR, as forecast by pollution monitoring agencies.

The restrictions were imposed by the EPCA under the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP).

Delhi’s air quality started deteriorating a day after Diwali to “severe-plus” or “emergency” due to fireworks and weather conditions like wind speed and dipping mercury, leading to lower dispersion rate of pollutants. The Air Quality Index (AQI) on Saturday was 401 or “severe”.

India, air pollution, WHO, diwali, Pollution, Delhi, egypt, air quality
A bird flies past the Humayun’s Tomb shrouded in smog in New Delhi, India. VOA

“The CPCB-headed task force has informed EPCA that given the prevailing adverse conditions, the following measures will remain until November 12, when it will further review the situation and inform us,” said EPCA Chairman Bhure Lal, in a letter to Delhi Chief Secretary Anshu Prakash, the Delhi Environment Secretary and the Delhi Pollution Control Committee.

Also Read: Delhi’s Pollution Brings Down The Diwali High

The measures include a ban on industries using coal and biomass, brick kilns, construction activities and entry of trucks into Delhi. The restrictions exclude power plants and waste to energy plants. (IANS)