When crop loan waiver was offered to farmers in 2009 under then chief minister Ashok Chavan, economically prosperous western Maharashtra was allocated Rs 2,011 crore, more than what Konkan and the distressed Vidarbha and Marathwada received together at Rs 1,813 crore, government data shows. The data has been procured by a high-powered committee constituted by the current government to profile farmers and ascertain their loan amounts.
According to documents, the total crop loan waiver to Mumbai — Rs 287 crore — was higher than the amount given to six distressed districts of Vidarbha, at Rs 286 crore. The figures assimilated through several banks, including national, commercial, district and central, show that the waiver to farmers in Washim was Rs 0.01 crore, Buldhana was Rs 3.88 crore, Amravati was Rs 34.86 crore, Wardha was Rs 19.23 crore, Yavatmal was Rs 105 crore and Akola was Rs 123. 45 crore.
The statistics, which had not been made public so far by the Congress-NCP government, shows that the 14 distressed districts of Vidarbha and Marathwada, which recorded higher farm suicides during 1999 and the 2000s, got less benefits than the more prosperous western Maharashtra and the Konkan, which includes Mumbai. A senior officer in the committee said: “Since the waiver announced by the Devendra Fandavis government is for 2009 to June 2016 period, we have to study 2009 farmers’ profiles to ensure who is eligible for benefits and under which category. In the wake of serious anomalies and regional disparity in allocation of funds in 2009, the committee has decided to reevaluate the beneficiaries. This will also expose irregularities in disbursements.”
A source in the ministry of Cooperation and Marketing, which is the nodal agency for the loan waiver monitoring process, said: “The anomalies show that waiver benefits might have been pocketed by ineligible farmers or banks. Once we establish this, we can recover the excess amount from the errant individuals or groups.” This time, the state government has decided to monitor the beneficiaries through their Aadhaar cards after it came to light that in 2009, some farmers took loans from both cooperative as well as private banks by using their names differently.