The state government’s decision to extend a fresh crop loan of Rs 10,000 to debt-ridden farmers whose previous loans up to Rs 1.5 lakh have been waived off has not received good response. The total disbursement of loan under the scheme has not exceeded Rs 2,300 crore in the last three weeks. The demand for the loan from the backward regions of Vidarbha and Marathwada has been higher compared to economically prosperous districts of western and north Maharashtra.
However, nearly 17 lakh farmers in the state, who have not defaulted on payment of previous loans, have availed regular crop loan to the tune of Rs 12,000 crore. A majority of them are not part of the 89 lakh farmers whose loans up to Rs 1.5 lakh have been waived by the state.
There are a total 1.34 crore farmers in Maharashtra. Of these, 40 lakh are debt-ridden small and marginal farmers. There are 59 lakh farmers who have qualified for a special incentive package of Rs 25,000. Apart from these, there are 44 lakh farmers who are financially prosperous.
Highly placed sources in the high powered committee looking into the loan waiver issue said the Maharashtra government had, after announcing the loan waiver, decided to provide an immediate crop loan of Rs 10,000 to all beneficiaries of the waiver to help them start sowing of kharif crops. District central cooperative banks and commercial banks had been directed to start the disbursement from June 22.
However, reports suggest there have been inordinate procedural delays on part of the financial institutions in issuing circulars to all its branches to comply with the direction.
Another reason cited is that farmer are not keen on availing a loan in the wake of delayed rains. The state government has stood guarantor for the loan. Explaining the reason for poor response to the loan scheme, a government official said, “Commercial banks were awaiting the circular from their headquarters after the board of directors’ approval. It was issued on Thursday or Friday.”
District central cooperative banks also report mixed response to the scheme. The cooperative banks economically prosperous Pune and Kolhapur districts have not received a single application from farmers for the Rs 10,000 loan. In other regions, said sources, cooperative bank branches were found lagging in completing the process.