To make sure that the benefits of the Rs 34,000-crore loan waiver it announced reach the needy, the state government is planning to put in place a strict monitoring and auditing mechanism to weed out rich, non-eligible farmers. Detailed guidelines will be issued within a week to all financial institutions and nodal departments engaged in the monitoring of the loan waiver, a source in the government said.
The total crop loan taken by 1.36 crore farmers in the state is Rs 1.14 lakh crore. The state has given Rs 36,000 crore waiver to 89 lakh farmers. Apart from this, the government has also provided Rs 25,000 one-time financial incentive package to the 35 lakh farmers who regularly re-paid loans. The eligibility parameters for the waiver beneficiaries have been clearly drawn and provided to national, commercial and district central cooperative banks, a government official said.
For this, a software has been adopted from Telengana, which profiles each and every farmer complete with his financial status and income. While the state has allowed farmers to provide self-declaration forms to avail the loan waiver, the administration is creating a mechanism where strict audits would be conducted to spot non-eligible farmers and take action against them. Farmers availing the benefit by furnishing wrong details can be booked for a criminal offence, an official said.
Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has also stated that the government will take all necessary steps to prevent misuse of the loan waiver. Referring to a CAG report exposing the irregularities under the previous Congress-NCP government, Fadnavis said, “We will ensure that the relief is not misused by anybody to serve vested interests.”
Meanwhile, the Congress and NCP’s continued push for a blanket loan waiver of Rs 1. 14 lakh crore seems to have made some leaders within the Congress uneasy. A senior party leader told The Indian Express. “The demand for a complete loan waiver can look like the party is batting for rich, influential farmers.”
The Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana chief Raju Shetti, too said: “Our concern is that the poor, small and marginal farmers should be benefitted. We are not in favour of loan waiver to the rich and prosperous. The government should also work to provide better prices for farmers’ goods.”
Farmer task force chairman Kishore Tiwari claimed, “During the UPA government in 2008-09, the loan waiver given benefited rich farmers and banks, who used the money to clear their NPAs. As a result, lakhs of needy farmers were deprived of the benefits.”