All national, commercial and district central cooperative banks started the disbursement of Rs 10,000 loan to farmers Thursday to facilitate sowing of Kharif crops before June 30. In a clear departure from norms followed in the past, when banks extended loans after completing the procedure of ascertaining the eligibility of each individual farmer, they are now accepting self-declaration forms from farmers to issue the loan. Debt-ridden farmers with a monthly income of up to Rs 20,000 will get the benefit.
The national and commercial banks across western and north Maharashtra, Vidarbha and Marathwada received large number of farmers Thursday who were provided the stated amount, according to a senior officer in the government.
Highly placed sources in the government said the government had asked all banks to get a self-declaration form filled from each farmer asking for the Rs 10,000 loan. At the bankers’ meeting Wednesday, commercial and district cooperative banks were told not to worry about the new norms adopted for sanctioning the loan as the government would provide a robust mechanism to take appropriate action against farmers found misusing the rule.
The self-declaration form has been simplified so that illiterate farmers too find it easy to fill. The farmers are expected to furnish only some basic details. Availing the loan without conforming to the eligibility criteria would be considered a criminal offence.
The loan disbursement exercise will continue till July 30. Farmers’ organisations seem to be satisfied with the development. “It would be foolish to stretch the matter once the loan waiver has been declared and process of allocation started. Our protest will invite backlash from farmers whose concern is Kharif sowing,” said a senior farmer leader who was leading their agitation.
According to the government’s estimates, 70 lakh farmers of the total 1.36 crore will get the loan waiver benefits. The well-to-do farmers who had not defaulted would be provided a special incentive package in the coming months. Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray, along with all elected members of the party, decided Thursday to donate a month’s salary towards farmers’ relief. Thackeray donated Rs 10 lakh. Earlier, government employees too also donated a day’s salary for farmers’ welfare.