In an attempt to bring in transparency and allow decentralisation of the process, the state government had made online submission of forms for the Chhatrapati Shivaji Shetkari Sanman Yojana (farm loan waiver scheme) compulsory. But the move that was supposed to help farmers has led to increased harassment among them as complains pour in about some of them being asked to pay up by the Maha eSeva Kendra operators to fill up the forms. This, despite clear orders from the state government that farmers should be allowed to submit their details free of cost.
Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis had announced a Rs 34,000 crore loan waiver in view of farmers’ protests that had rocked the state in June. More than 30,000 Maha eSeva Kendras have been authorised to fill up the forms. The online form links information by using a farmer’s Aadhaar number. A one time password (OTP) is generated based on the Aadhaar enrolment details of a farmer that allows one to log in to the website for uploading data. The process, which is the first step towards filling up forms, is to be completed online and without any fee.
In reality, however, the process is proving to be cumbersome and numerous complaints are pouring in through the special helpline run by the state government where farmers are saying they are being forced to pay processing fee to fill up the forms.
Run by the department of co-operative, the helpline has received more than 4,500 calls in the past two months and almost 30-40 per cent of the calls have been about farmers being asked to pay up. Officials said till date, majority of the calls have been from Marathwada and Vidarbha region, while calls from Nashik, Konkan and western Maharashtra have been less in number.
An officer of the co-operative department said farmers are being asked to pay anything between Rs 50 and Rs 300 at the centres. “These centres are controlled by the district collectorate and we are asking the callers to contact them (the officials). In some cases, we also call up the kendra operators and try to resolve the matter at our end,” said the officer.
Farmers, however, said even complaints to the district collectorate did not yield results.
Prahlad Ingole, district president of the Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana in Nanded, said almost all centres have started asking for money from the farmers to fill up the forms online. “Many farmers pay up in the hope of quick loan waiver,” he said.
Technical issues also seem to disrupt the process with the online portal crashing frequently and in many cases, being unable to upload the necessary information. In some remote parts of Vidarbha, machines to match the biometrics with the Aadhaar database are not easily available that halts the process of filling up forms.
According to the terms and conditions of the scheme, farmers from Vidarbha and Marathwada regions are expected to benefit the most, which might be a reason for most calls to the helpline being received from there.