Of farmers and loan waiversApr 30th, 2009 | By Elections2009 | Category: Issues
Sandeep Joshi, Alwar
Too many applications, too few repayments in hope of another bonanza
Ram Niwas Yadav, who never took a farm loan fearing the tedious documentation process, now eagerly awaits the clearance of his loan application with Punjab National Bank’s branch in Shekhpur Ahir village in Alwar district of Rajasthan.
He is not the only one. I came across many farmers in the rural belt of Rajasthan and Haryana neighbouring Delhi who have applied for fresh loans.
They include those who recently saw their pending agricultural loans written off under the Congress-led United Progressive Government’s massive Rs. 71,000-crore loan waiver scheme.
While those who benefited are praising the incumbent UPA government, fresh applicants are keeping their fingers crossed as the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), in its manifesto, has promised another loan waiver bonanza for farmers in its manifesto.
Ram Niwas tells me: “It [the loan waiver scheme] proved to be a jackpot for several of my fellow villagers, while those who repaid on time feel cheated.”
Expressing similar feelings, Mohammed of village Mandi Khera in Gurgaon district of Haryana says: “The government favours defaulters and no one cares for honest people. I welcome any help to farmers in distress, but in our region agriculture production has been normal.”
Mohammad repaid his farm loans worth Rs.50,000 just before the waiver scheme was announced.
Government banks here are jittery as their loan recovery has fallen drastically.
“The harvest season is over. By this time, our loan recovery used to be around 80 per cent. Since farmers’ perception has changed, they are no longer keen on repaying their loans. As a result, our collection has fallen to just 20 per cent. While we are flooded with applications for fresh loans, repayment has taken a serious hit,” says a bank official in Alwar district.
Almost all the banks in the rural areas of Haryana and Rajasthan have put up lists of beneficiaries.
In the PNB branch at Saroda on Bhiwadi-Alwar highway in Rajasthan that covers a dozen villages, as many as 224 villagers have seen their loans worth Rs.76 lakh written off, while in the State Bank of India’s (SBI) Naugaon branch that covers a large part of rural Mewat region in Haryana, the figure runs into a few crores of rupees.
Says Suraj Bhan, a Scheduled Caste landless labourer of Sigrawali village: “I no longer have to fear bank officials come searching for me, asking me to repay the Rs.15,000 loan that I had taken a few years back for purchasing cattle. The amount has been written off.”
Sher Singh, ex-sarpanch of Milakpur in Gurgaon and a Congress worker, says at least 85 households in his village have got waivers worth over Rs.10 lakh.
As Sher Singh leaves in his Maruti 800, he reveals that he also managed to get a Rs. 50,000 loan waived.