It is a big victory for farmers in Tamil Nadu as the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court has directed the state government to waive farm loans irrespective of the size of the land holding.
The Court has further ordered officials against penal action on farmers. The court asked the Government to expand on its earlier order from 2016 that allowed waiver of loans for farmers who hold land below 5 acres.
State authorities have been given three months to comply with the order. The Madras High Court was hearing a petition filed by Ayyakannu, the head of National South Indian River Interlinking Agriculturalists Association. The petitioner had requested that the loan waiver should not be limited to those who have taken loans only against 5 acres of land.
This order which is bound to be seen as a victory by farmers in the state, comes at a time when Tamil Nadu is facing its worst drought in 140 years. Over 80 farmers from the state's delta region have been protesting in the national capital for the last three weeks demanding that the Centre waive loans taken by farmers. In addition to this they have also asked the Centre to sanction the Rs.39,000 crore sought by the state as drought relief.
In an interview to TNM, Ayyakannu, who has been leading the agitation in the capital, had said that it was unfair for the Government to set restrictions on loan waiver based on size of landholding. The High Court's order today, has ensured that one of his demands have been fulfilled. The Court mentioned the floods in 2015 and the lack of rainfall in 2016, as reasons for crop failure.When the state government's representation said that it would be difficult for the state to bear the expenses, the court directed the government to seek the Centre's assistance to assist the loan waiver.