Close on the heels of Sharad Pawar’s statement that farmers need not return loans taken from unlicensed moneylenders, deputy chief minister R R Patil has ordered a crackdown on illegal lenders. Home Minister R R Patil ordered the setting up of district-level committees under deputy superintendents of police. The new state police chief, A N Roy, will be asked to monitor the situation in the state. Home Minister R R Patil said that it was often difficult to define an “illegal” moneylender as even larger farm owners lent money to help out smaller farm owners in the same village. The Home Minister has also directed the police to check the rates of interest being charged by the region’s 7,000 licensed moneylenders. Announcement of the loan waiver for farmers had sparked concern among Vidarbha’s cotton growers, who borrowed heavily from lenders after being turned away by banks. A NMTV Bureau Report.
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