WITH THE government’s farm loan waiver scheme completing a year in October, officials said 25 lakh “ghost” bank accounts have come to the fore, saving the state exchequer around Rs 12,500 crore.
While the scheme was announced on July 24, 2017, the process of crediting the loan amount directly into the bank accounts of farmers began from October. In all, the government had spent around Rs 21,500 crore on waiving crop loan up to Rs 1.5 lakh of 47.39 lakh farmers. It also extended the loan waiver to farmers who had borrowed funds from money lenders. According to statistics, the government spent Rs 62.87 lakh on 42,687 farmers in this connection.
Officials attributed the failure to disburse the initial estimated expenditure under the scheme — around Rs 34,000 crore was sought to be distributed to around 72 lakh farmers — to these 25 lakh ghost bank accounts.
The State Level Bankers Committee (SLBC) had initially conducted a survey, naming 89 lakh farmers who would benefit from the scheme. However, three months later, it had submitted a revised list, decreasing the number of beneficiaries to 67 lakh from the original 89 lakh. As the scheme completes a year, the number has further come down to around 48 lakh.
Officials said online applications filed by farmers coupled with a three-step verification process to validate eligible candidates helped in weeding out a large number of ghost accounts.
A senior official in the state cooperation and marketing department said: “Till now, we have established 25 lakh ghost accounts. The digital process, coupled with the verification mechanism, helped us identify the real beneficiaries… The online process has helped check the misuse of the scheme by politicians and financial institutions. It has plugged the misuse of funds by individuals who were not eligible for a loan waiver.”
Speaking to The Indian Express, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said, “The decision to adopt the digital mechanism has helped credit the loan waiver amount directly into the bank accounts of the eligible farmers. This has helped drastically eliminate manipulations. Our objective was to ensure the scheme wipes off the entire debt of a farmer so that he becomes eligible for institutional crop credit.”
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