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UP: Banks identified 66 lakh farmers, but only 44 lakh availed loan waiver

Banks appear to have given inflated figures on eligible beneficiaries of the farm loan waiver scheme announced by the Yogi Adityanath government after the BJP came to power in Uttar Pradesh in March 2017, people dealing with the issue said.

lucknow Updated: Dec 04, 2018 12:49 IST
Brajendra K Parashar
Brajendra K Parashar
Hindustan Times, Lucknow
Yogi Adityanath government,Uttar Pradesh,BJP government
The loan waiver scheme will close on December 31 or latest by March 31, 2019 if it is extended at all, though not many claimants are coming forward.(Representative image)

Banks appear to have given inflated figures on eligible beneficiaries of the farm loan waiver scheme announced by the Yogi Adityanath government after the BJP came to power in Uttar Pradesh in March 2017, people dealing with the issue said.

This probably explains why the actual number of farmers (beneficiaries) who have availed themselves of the loan waiver scheme is far less than the number of eligible farmers identified by banks.

Around 33% of the budget sanctioned for the scheme has remained unspent so far, they said.

The loan waiver scheme will close on December 31 or latest by March 31, 2019 if it is extended at all, though not many claimants are coming forward.

At its very first cabinet meeting on April 4, 2017, the Yogi government decided to waive small and marginal farmers’ short-term crop loans of up to Rs 1 lakh.

The decision was taken to fulfil the BJP’s pre-poll promise. The state government earmarked over Rs 36,000 crore for this purpose.

Acting on the government’s directions, the banks identified 66 lakh farmers who, according to them, were eligible to be beneficiaries of the loan waiver scheme under the government’s guidelines.

But only 44 lakh farmers have availed the benefits of scheme so far. This is 66% of the number projected by the banks. The government has spent Rs 24,600 crore on the scheme so far, which is 68% of the budget sanctioned for loan waiver.

People familiar with the matter said the budget had been sanctioned, taking into account the lists of beneficiaries made available to the government by the banks.

“On close scrutiny, we deleted the names of farmers whom we found to be ineligible for the loan waiver scheme,” an agriculture department official said. He said a large number of beneficiaries were not farmers at all.

“We are yet to recover Rs 866 crore from banks that settled the loan of 1.76 lakh ineligible beneficiaries,” he disclosed.

When the Congress led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government at the Centre announced a loan waiver scheme in 2008-09, the banks allegedly settled loans of a large number of ineligible farmers or even of their clients who were not farmers at all, sources said.

“This time, technology was used for the first time to filter the false claims and hence the banks were caught,” they said.

The crop loan waiver amount was not handed over to farmers but transferred to their bank loan account after which banks issued a no-dues certificate to farmers.

First Published: Dec 04, 2018 12:49 IST