65% of Maharashtra govt’s loan waiver sum reaches 37 lakh farmers

By Times Of India on 07 Jun 2018 | read
MUMBAI: Almost a year after the loan waiver was announced, the Maharashtra government has disbursed Rs 14,916 crore into the accounts of 37.4 lakh farmers, the latest review of the scheme by a cabinet subcommittee on May 29 shows. This is 64.5% of the Rs 23,102 crore the state has budgeted for the scheme so far.

The pace of disbursal has slowed over the last three months. In March, the government told the state assembly a waiver of Rs 13,872 crore had been extended to 37 lakh farmers. This means that since then, an additional sum of Rs 1,044 crore has been extended. Also, the break-up of the scheme reveals 22 lakh indebted farmers or 59% of 37 lakh beneficiaries received a loan waiver. And 15.3 lakh farmers or 40% of beneficiaries received an incentive payment as they had not defaulted on their loans. This part of the scheme was meant to reward farmers who are credit-worthy.

So far, the state has disbursed 44% of the Rs 34,022 crore originally announced for the scheme. After the farmer strike last year, CM Devendra Fadnavis had announced the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Shetkari Sanman Yojana on June 24, 2017. He said it would benefit 89 lakh farmers.

The state set up eligibility norms in order to ensure only those dependent on farming and not prosperous accessed the scheme. After the long march of farmers from Nashik to Mumbai by the Kisan Sabha this year, the scheme’s scope was expanded. Online applications are being received till June 15 with the state extending the deadline.

“The eligibility norms have ensured only those who deserved it got the waiver. Naturally, the sum will be less than Rs 34,022 crore. We have saved money and prevented it from going into the wrong hands,” said cooperation minister Subhash Deshmukh. The state has received applications relating to 77 lakh farmer accounts. Of these, 46.5 lakh or 60% have been approved so far.

Of the 37.4 lakh farmers who have received the waiver, Rs 11,611 crore went to 21 lakh farmers with debts upto Rs 1.5 lakh. And Rs 830 crore went to 84,000 farmers who had debts over that sum but repaid the rest of it by the deadline set by the state. This entitles them to a one-time settlement (OTS) of Rs 1.5 lakh. As many as 15.3 lakh farmers have received Rs 2,444 crore under the incentive category.

Officials said the pace of disbursal slowed down post-March since banks had to attend to year-end operations and other activities because work around the waiver had taken up a lot of their time. They also said it is mainly payouts in the OTS category which are slowing down the disbursal process. “We have extended the deadline for OTS scheme till June 30. So many farmers have not yet paid the rest of their dues to access the scheme,” said Deshmukh.

Of the roughly 23 lakh farmer accounts approved for the main waiver, 21lakh have been credited. Of the 16 lakh farmers approved for the incentive scheme, 15.3 lakh have been credited. However, of the 7.5 lakh farmer accounts approved for the OTS scheme, only 84,000 have been credited so far.

The account approval process too has taken long. So far, 46.5 lakh of 77 lakh accounts of applicants have been approved. Officials said this is because errors cropped up in data on the accounts, which were then being verified by tehsil-level committees. “The eligibility norms excluded many from the scheme. That is one of its biggest failings,” said Ajit Navale of Kisan Sabha.