Declaring that the government will not allow ghost accounts to operate in loan waiver, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Thursday extended benefit of Rs 1.5 lakh to farmers whose loans were restructured till 2016. The segment that has been included in the Rs 34,000 crore loan waiver bracket has farmers who had availed of the government restructure crop loan policy in 2014-15 and 2015-16. The decision to include more farmers would lead to an additional financial burden of Rs 5,500 crore for the state government.
“We have made concerted efforts to incorporate all safeguards through adoption of technology and modern apps to eliminate ghost accounts to ensure that the loan amount reaches the truly deserving farmers,” Fadnavis said in the state legislative Assembly and Council during a debate on loan waiver in the ongoing monsoon session.
Ghost accounts refer to cases when individuals or banks pocket loan amounts in the name of farmers and accounts that do not exist, he said. The Rs 34,000 crore loan amount should reach the farmers and not become a weapon to write off non-performing assets of banks or a handful influential ineligible individuals as happened in the loan waiver of 2008-09 during the Congress-NCP government that was exposed by the CAG report, Fadnavis added.
“A new mobile app will be launched in two to three days. Every form filled by an individual farmer, complete with biometric, is to get rid of bogus farmers and manipulations by the financial and cooperative institutions,” he said. “The central objective of the loan waiver is to economically and socially empower the farmers to break the vicious cycle of debt and make them self reliant.”
Fadnavis added: “I admit that the loan waiver cannot be a lasting solution to tackle the agrarian crisis. But loan waiver is a step towards bringing 44 lakh farmers back into the institutional credit mechanism to facilitate fresh crop loans. It will also help farmers to financially empower and augment their capacity to repay crop loans that they would seek ahead.”
Of the total 1.36 crore farmers, the loan waiver would benefit 89 lakh, including 44 lakh farmers who were debt ridden and out of the credit system. The remaining farmers, in various categories, would avail of loans up to Rs 1.5 lakh, irrespective of their land holding, by repaying the dues. The additional 10 lakh farmers come in a category who in the last two years have availed of the state government’s restructuring of crop loan policy. Under the policy, farmers repaid interest amount on the crop loans and sought fresh loans. The government provided them an incentive of zero interest for the first year and lower interest rate of six per cent for the next five years.
“Loan waiver benefits up to Rs 1.5 lakh will be given to to farmers whose crop loans were restructured,” said the chief minister. Fadnavis said the process of online application for the waiver across 25,000 centres on Aple Sarkar Portal will conclude within a month.
A committee of all political party members will be set up to monitor the loan waiver. It would be apart from the state administrative mechanism that would monitor and help farmers with online filing up of loan waiver forms, Fadnavis said. He displayed a two-page form that could be filled offline and online, with assistance of officials at the 25,000 centres.
Referring to the Comptroller and Auditor (CAG) report on 2008-09 loan waiver scam, Fadnavis said: “In the six distressed districts of Vidarbha where maximum farm suicides took place, the total loan waiver was Rs 286 crore. As against the total amount of Rs 287 crore given to farmers in Mumbai alone.”
Loans were given to individuals in Mumbai for land development. There were non-eligible organisations or individuals who availed of loan amounts up to Rs 60-Rs 80 crore to write off loans taken for vehicles. “What is most shocking is that there is no comprehensive list of farmers who availed the Rs 8,500 crore loan during 2008-09.” chief minister said.
Speaking about the lackadaisical approach of some national, district cooperative and commercial banks towards loan waiver, he said: “The banks are not displaying their social commitment towards loan waiver. Their non cooperation, despite state government giving guarantee, cannot be justified. The government will not hesitate to act if the non-cooperation continues.”
He added: “In the past, we stopped at filing one FIR against the bank. The state government will not allow any body to sabotage the welfare of the farmers.”
Farmers got higher MSP for foodgrains, pulses this year: CM Devendra Fadnavis
The Maharashtra government Thursday said 80 per cent of the farm production was awarded a minimum support price (MSP) in Maharashtra, with fluctuations in prices remaining confined to only 20 per cent items. CM Devendra Fadnavis made the statement in the House during the ongoing monsoon session.
Refuting the allegations that farmers did not get MSP for their produce, the CM said, “I have a list of all the foodgrains, cereals, oilseeds, fruits and vegetables. It clearly shows that almost 80 per cent of the farm production have seen farmers getting higher price compared to last two years. The MSP was much higher. Only in 20 per cent cases the prices were volatile. They either rose and dipped.” Explaining further, Fadnavis said, “The price of jowari increased from Rs 1,615 to Rs 1,983 per quintal, whereas the MSP for moong rose from Rs 4,767 to Rs 6,458 per quintal. The MSP for tur was increased from Rs 3,856 to Rs 5,050 per quintal and that of bhuimoong (cereal) increased from Rs 4,045 to Rs 4,605 per quintal.”