Uttar Pradesh agriculture minister Surya Pratap Shahi on Tuesday said the state government cannot help if the loan amount that a farmer owes to a bank is as low as Rs 100 or even less and the farmer gets the crop loan waiver certificate accordingly.
“Where is the surprise if the government has distributed the certificate to a farmer waiving Rs 100 or even less, the amount that he actually owed to a bank?” he asked, adding, “After all, we cannot make his dues bigger or smaller.”
He was reacting to media reports showing many farmers in various districts getting loan waiver certificates of paltry amount.
“There are farmers whose waived loan amount is as much as Rs 90,000 and more,” he said, talking to HT over the phone.
The farmers’ short-term crop loan, according him, was being waived in accordance with a pre-decided formula, regardless of the amount.
Additional director, agriculture, Rajesh Gupta explained, “As per the formula, all small and marginal farmers are entitled to loan waiver up to Rs 1 lakh on the dues pending as on March 31, 2016 which means while there is no limit to the minimum amount, the maxim amount that can be waived will not be more than Rs 1 lakh.”
“There are many farmers who paid their dues to banks in 2016-17, but some amount, which in many cases has been found to be less than Re 1, remained unpaid due to various reasons including some mistake in interest calculation and now we have waived only that amount and issued certificates accordingly against the information made available to us by the banks concerned,” he said.
Gupta said the loan liability has been found to be very small against around 8,000-10,000 farmers and such farmers, he added, have been found in every district.
The government has identified around 66 lakh indebted farmers as eligible for loan waiver scheme, the total amount to be waived being more than Rs 36,000 crore. According to the minister, the loan waiver certificates have already been distributed to more than 11 lakh farmers for the total amount of around Rs 7,500 crore so far in the first phase.
Shahi said preparations for the launch of the second phase of the loan waiver scheme are in the final stages.
“The farmers who have linked their bank account with Aadhaar will be given the loan waiver certificates in the second phase. In the third phase, we may take up those farmers who fail to get their account linked to Aadhaar even in the second phase,” he said.
Loan waiver was one of the BJP’s most ambitious pre-poll promises in UP. The party is sparing no opportunity in taking political mileage even now when the loan waiver exercise has begun.
“This is perhaps the reason why the Yogi Adityanath government is distributing certificates with the CM and PM’s photos on them to farmers through camps that ministers attend to create a buzz,” said an official, adding, “Otherwise there was no need for distributing certificates because the loan amount is transferred to a farmer’s bank account much before he is given a certificate.”