The digital process for implementation of the farm loan waiver scheme is learnt to have helped the state government save Rs 5,500 crore. A preliminary report of the state government, which has compiled the online list of applications received and validated, shows more than 10 lakh bogus claims made before various financial institutions.
“The preliminary report shows that apart from the bogus loan waiver claims, there were around 2 lakh non-eligible candidates. The process of weeding out such candidates was the real challenge. As per our conservative estimates, the bogus and non-eligible candidates would have caused the state losses to the tune of Rs 5,500 crore,” said a senior officer involved in implementation of the scheme.
With a three-tier scrutiny using advanced software, he added, only eligible farmers were getting the benefit. “There is no scope for manipulations by those who operate and control the financial institutions or are influential in their respective talukas,” said the officer.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Pramod Gamne, a resident of Yerla village in Katol tehsil of Nagpur, said, “A retired police officer from the neighbouring Akola district had applied from our village for the loan waiver. When the online applications were scrutinised, it became known that he was not eligible. The digital process cancelled his candidature. When the list was read out in the ‘chadwi’ (village public forum), all of us were surprised to see an outsider claiming benefit from our village. We pointed out there was no such farmer living in this village.”
A team of officials from the information technology and cooperation and marketing ministries have worked together to match the list of names provided by the financial institutions with the online applications received.
A cooperation and marketing department official said, “There was a long list of bogus names that had been provided by various financial institutions. The original list from the district cooperative banks across the state showed 44 lakh farmers as beneficiaries. After scrutiny, the number came down to 35 lakh. Similarly, there were discrepancies in the lists furnished by national and commercial banks too.”
Several retired and serving government employees, who own agricultural land, had also applied for the waiver, said the officer. The guidelines disallow government employees (except Class IV category), politicians, professionals, income tax payers from seeking loan waiver benefits.
Principal Secretary, Information and Technology, V K Gautam said, “In the digital system, there are several in-built checks. Our software is developed and programmed in such a manner that applicants immediately get segregated into green, yellow or red zone. As we have fed the list of government employees with their PAN and Aadhaar details, every government employee who is an income tax payer would automatically get out of the loan waiver bracket. Only the eligible names move into the green zone.”