The state government plans to set up a task force with the help of National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) to strengthen district cooperative banks across Maharashtra.
The move comes after the Centre and the state discussed the urgency to tackle the problems in the district cooperative banks, which have been reeling under pressure due to mismanagement in the last 15 years.
Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis Wednesday held a meeting with NABARD chairman Harsh Kumar Bhanwada to discuss the role of a nodal bank to strengthen the cooperative banks.
The district cooperative banks, which play a crucial role in the financing of the agricultural sector, had said they were not too keen on extending loans to farmers as it was becoming hard for them to recover the funds, given the history of droughts in the area. The state government, however, had maintained that eligible farmers cannot be refused loans.
NABARD, on the other hand, had pointed out to the government, the need for providing more crop loans to farmers. The credit disbursement to farmers is almost 300 times less compared to the loans extended by district cooperative and commercial banks to non-agriculture loans.
The state government has also decided to rope in NABARD for providing viability gap funds for the flagship programme of “Jalyukta Shivar”, a water conservation project. To begin, the water conservation projects funded by NABARD will be undertaken in five districts on a pilot basis.
Currently, 1,19,000 water conservation works are underway across 6002 villages in the state.
However, the chief minister has directed the district collectors to expedite the water conservation works to other villages in the second phase.
The state which has stood guarantee for farmers’ interest loan waiver has sought Rs 500 crore from NABARD to tackle the agrarian crisis in the state.
Under the restructured agro-policy, the farmers who avail the loans will not have to pay any interest for five years. Earlier, it was mandatory for the farmers to pay an interest between 6 and 12 per cent within three years.