UP farmers get loan waivers of a few paise, puzzled

By Times Of India on 14 Sep 2017 | read
Bijnor: Of the thousands of farmers who got their loans waived in the first phase of the scheme in Uttar Pradesh, there are hundreds left puzzled. Outstanding amounts as little as a few paisa, of which they were not aware, was also waived. While officials have called this a routine process, farmers have said this was an attempt at inflating beneficiary numbers.

Baliya Devi, a farmer in Bijnor’s Nagina area discovered that 9 paise, which she was not aware she owed the bank, had been waived. Others have reported waivers of 84 paise, Rs 2 and other minuscule amounts. According to government figures, of the 22,000 farmers in Bijnor who benefited from the waiver, 880, or more than 4%, had amounts lower than Rs 500.

A total of 86 lakh farmers across UP are to benefit from the waiver. Their names were shortlisted by banks and sent to the government. The waiver process will take place in three phases, of which the first is now over. Only those farmers with loans taken before March 31, 2016 are eligible.

In Bijnor, which has a large concentration of farmers, Rs 146 crore has been waived in the first phase. On September 8, eligible farmers were given loan waiver certificates. However, several farmers said they had already paid of the loan.

“I had paid off the entire loan amount of 1.5 lakh. Now I have been told I owed 9 paise, which has been waived. I do not know why the bank has listed me as a debtor for this amount,” said Baliya Devi.

Charan Singh, a farmer from Basta said, “Bank officials told me I owed them 84 paise, which has been waived. I thought I had repaid my loan. Nobody had told me earlier that I owed this tiny amount.”

A farmer named Ramdhan has Rs 2 waived; Heera Singh of Mandawar has Rs 3 cancelled, Bhagesh Kumar of Afzalgarh has Rs 6 waived, while Ramsaran Singh of Bijnor had Rs 16 struck off. They were not amused.

“This is just a way to increase the number of farmers as beneficiaries in the official record,” alleged Bhagesh Kumar. Ramsaran Singh and Heera Singh also repeated the allegations.

“Several of the beneficiaries had outstanding loans less than Rs 500. They were informed that their names were on the list, but have not shown any interest in getting the waiver certificates,” said Avdhesh Kumar Mishra, district agriculture officer.

Lead bank officer for Bijnor, Ajay Kumar, said, “Several eligible farmers had very small amounts outstanding in the records, sometimes a few paise. Their names were included because that was the procedure. It is a normal process.”

“Farmers take loans through Kisan Credit Card. They can keep taking loans and keep repaying. It is a recurring process. While repaying in stallments, there might be times when he would have just a few paise of debt, before he takes another loan. In these cases, the small amounts were all that remained in the record before the deadline of March 31, 2016,” Kumar added.