Rajasthan government plans legal panel for farm loan waiver up to Rs 2 lakh
The agrarian crisis or farmer distress in Rajasthan is one of the issues that the Congress had promised to tackle during its campaign in the run-up to the assembly elections last year.Updated: Feb 06, 2019 15:32 IST
The Rajasthan government plans to form an adjudicating authority to settle short-term loans up to Rs 2 lakh taken by farmers from nationalised, scheduled and regional rural banks, officials said.
Chief minister Ashok Gehlot had announced that the government would completely write off loans taken from cooperative banks, while for nationalised and other banks the waiver would be for loans up to Rs 2 lakh as on November 30, 2018.
Farmers have taken loans from around 25 scheduled and nationalised banks and 12 regional rural banks. Many have defaulted on repayments. Outstanding loan amounts (as on November 30, 2018) of eligible farmers will be waived up to Rs 2 lakh. The move will benefit around 10-12 lakh farmers.
An official familiar with the matter said an adjudication authority could be constituted under a retired judge or a senior official to identify eligible farmers who are willing to repay loans taken but are not in a position to do so because of financial distress.
Adjudication is a legal process by which an arbiter or judge reviews evidence and argumentation by opposing parties to come to a decision.
The authority will scrutinise loan defaults and list farmers eligible for waiver, the official said. Parameters for eligibility include death of an earning individual in a family, sale of land because of an urgency, expenditure due to marriage, a famer suffering from an incapacitating disease, a farmer who cannot work due to an accident and crop damage in natural calamities, among others.
“The adjudicating authority would hear both farmers and bank officials to decide on genuine defaulters,” the official said.
Banks give short-term loans to farmers for rabi crops from August 31 to March 1, which are to be repaid by September next year. For kharif crops loans are disbursed from April 1 to July 31 and they are to be cleared by March 31 next year. If loans are not repaid on time, farmers become defaulters and the outstanding amount is called overdue.
Camps will be held from February 7 to issue loan waiver certificates to farmers who have taken short-term loans from cooperative banks. For this the government will take a loan of Rs 1,500 crore from the National Cooperative Development Corporation (NCDC), officials said.
NCDC had approved Rs 5000 crore for the last government for loan waiver, of which Rs 2,200 crore was disbursed. The Gehlot government will first take Rs 1,500 crore loan from the remaining Rs 2,800 crore.
The government has asked district collectors to hold five camps with officials of cooperative banks -- one each in an assembly constituency -- from February 7 to 9. The camps will be organised at gram seva sehkari samitis (GSSS), where the loan amounts will be verified with farmers, and then authenticated with aadhar cards at e-mitra centres. Loan waiver certificates will be issued by GSSS.
Waiver of loans taken from primary land development banks and central cooperative banks will benefit around two lakh small and marginal farmers and help in freeing off 80,000 hectare mortgaged land, officials said.
The agrarian crisis or farmer distress in the state is one of the issues that the Congress had promised to tackle during its campaigning in the run-up to the assembly elections.
The Congress government in Rajasthan, like in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, cleared the loan waiver within days of assuming power. In the run-up to the assembly elections, Congress president Rahul Gandhi had promised to waive farm loans in the three states within 10 days of coming to power.
First Published: Feb 06, 2019 15:31 IST