Now, commercial bank crop loans to be waived off

By Times Of India on 13 Mar 2018 | read
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CHANDIGARH: After cooperative banks, the Punjab government plans to waive off loans borrowed by small and marginal farmers from commercial banks in the state. But it could turn out to be a long-drawn process as it is estimated that there could be eight lakh small and marginal farmers who qualify as beneficiaries for the financial relief.
Punjab convener of the State Level Bankers’ Committee (SLBC) P S Chauhan told TOI that the state government had asked the commercial banks to provide details of farmers by March 15, so that the process of verifying their details through government agencies could be expedited. “The numbers of farmers who have taken loans from commercial banks are much more, in contrast to over two lakh beneficiaries who had taken loans from cooperative banks. However, the criterion for selection of the beneficiaries and the amount to be waived (Rs 2 lakh) remains the same,” he said.

“Commercial banks would include Grameen Bank, public sector banks and also private banks. The SLBC has asked the banks to start gathering the data,” he added.

The first phase of debt waiver has been completed and the second is likely to begin this week, coinciding with the completion of one year of the Congress government. The state government has made an allocation of Rs 1,500 crore in the annual budget for 2017-18 for the debt waiver but it plans to raise Rs 10,000 crore loan for the remaining amount.

In first phase total 3,20,395 cases of beneficiaries were selected under the scheme and Sangrur district tops in the list with 34,409 cases, whereas 772 cases were reported from Pathankot district.

According to the notification of debt waiver, every branch manager of scheduled commercial, regional rural banks or cooperative credit institution, and other lending institution covered under the scheme should be linked to Aadhar-seeded village-wise lists, one of marginal and other of small farmers, who are eligible for debt waiver.

The waiver is being extended following a report by an expert group led by agrieconomist T Haque. It will directly benefit nearly 10.25 lakh farmers in the state. The scheme covers only institutional crop loans, which have been advanced by commercial and cooperative banking intuitions.

An official said the verification exercise could take a few months before actual disbursal to the farmers begins. Any farmer not satisfied with his name being included in either of the lists for small and marginal categories can make a representation to the Deputy Commissioner concerned.