More than 7.50 lakh UP farmers await loan waiver
Even after two years of its launch, the Uttar Pradesh government’s Debt Redemption Scheme still hangs fire with more than 7.50 lakh farmers left standing in the queue to get their claims settled.
According to information available on the UP government portal for the loan-waiver scheme, of the 12,35,618 grievances received so far, the government machinery has been able to dispose of only 4,74,304 cases, while a whopping 7,61,314 complaints are yet to be redressed.
“I cannot recall the exact number of pending claims but it is true that a large number of grievances are yet to be redressed and we are taking a call on them,” agriculture director Sauraj Singh said.
Disposing of over 7.50 lakh claims to the complainants’ (farmers) satisfaction is said to be a difficult task for the agriculture department which had been entrusted with the responsibility of implementing the scheme.
Sources said the scheme should have been closed down by now but it was not possible for the government to do so because a large number of pending farmers’ grievances. The government had to extend the last date for farmers to lodge their complaints in case they failed to avail of the scheme despite their being eligible for it.
“We feel a majority of the complaints lodged by farmers must be frivolous or false but at the same time it also true that the loan waiver scheme cannot be closed down till all the claims are settled,” additional director, agriculture, statistics, Rajesh Gupta said.
Sources said that the speed of grievances redressed had slowed down or even come to a standstill after the announcement of the PM Kisan Nidhi Yojana, a new, direct income support scheme, since the entire agriculture department machinery and banks got pressed into implementing the Centre’s new initiative. The loan-waiver scheme that the BJP government introduced as part of the manifesto for the Vidhan Sabha elections, sought to redeem crop loans up to Rs 1 lakh of individual and marginal farmers whose crop loans were disbursed by lending institutions on or before March 2016.
Sources revealed that not only were there lakhs of complaints pending but more than 30% of the total Rs 36,000 crore budget sanctioned by the government for debt redemption remained unspent. “This is largely because banks had initially identified 66 lakh farmers eligible for the scheme but when it came for the actual reimbursement, we found only around 25 lakh farmers were eligible according to government’s guidelines,” Gupta said.
So far, around 44 lakh small and marginal famers have benefitted under the debt-redemption scheme with the government having reimbursed more than Rs 24,000 crore.