The Maharashtra government is developing a software to prepare the list of farmers eligible for crop loan waiver. The move is aimed at bypassing manual interference in list preparation, keeping a check on malpractices that crop up during the process and ensure that only eligible farmers reap the benefits of a loan waiver. The minister cited experience of the 2008 loan waiver scheme wherein many non-eligible farmers walked away with the benefits leaving the needy farmers in the lurch. “The 2008 loan waiver scheme, benefitted many non-eligible farmers, while those in need and eligible ones were kept away,” Maharashtra state cooperation minister Subhash Deshmukh told PTI.
“In 2008, all the documents of outstanding loan, bank accounts and eligibility were processed manually. It was carried out by officials in cooperative banks, who under influence of local political leaders, favoured some persons and got their loans waived,” said Deshmukh. “These persons were not eligible, but because the documents were processed manually, politicians could manipulate it resulting in non-eligible farmers getting a loan waiver,” he said.
The minister said, “As per my information, around Rs 9,000 crore outstanding loans from Maharashtra were waived when the then UPA government introduced the relief package. “Out of it, Rs 180 crore worth amount was of non-eligible farmers which was later pointed out in CAG report. As a follow up of it, the state government insisted those farmers and persons to repay the amount but not more than Rs 150 crore have been recovered so far.”
Deshmukh said, “In the backdrop of previous experience, the state government decided to develop a software for implementing such largescale loan waiver scheme. “It will have an in-depth database of farmers, their land holdings, all the bank accounts along with linking of Aadhar number to these accounts and to the land owned. “If available, PAN will also be linked to the farmers account to bring more authenticity and transparency.”
The meta-data can be accessed in multiple ways and based on crop, size of land, particular region — information can be sought, he said. “We will use it for finding out eligible farmers as the Maharashtra government has come up with some criteria for the loan waiver. It will bypass manual intervention as we will be adding entire information of farmers in Maharashtra and then based on criteria — eligible farmers list will be prepared,” Deshmukh said. The database once ready, will be used on a regular basis for assessing the cropping pattern, change in yield and change in land holding patterns, he added.
There are 1.34 crore farmers in Maharashtra of which some 90 lakh farmers have availed crop loan from respective district central cooperative banks or public sector banks. The Maharashtra government has claimed that around 89 lakh farmers will benefit from the loan waiver and relief scheme while the entire outstanding of 36 lakh farmers will be totally waived. The Devendra Fadnavis government has decided to waive farm loans of Rs 34,000 crore with a cap of Rs 1.50 lakh for each farmer.