Farm loan waiver yet to reach UP’s hapless farmers

The Yogi Adityanath government has not delivered on its electoral promise yet and farmers have already started committing suicide

PTI Photo
PTI Photo

Tarique Anwar

There was a semblance of relief for the household of Rambeer Singh, a farmer in Bahadurpur village of Meerut, on April 5 this year when the Yogi Adityanath government announced farm loan waivers worth ₹30,729 crore affecting 2.15 crore small and marginalised farmers in the state of Uttar Pradesh. According to this waiver package, farmers who had taken a crop loan up to ₹1 lakh each, would have gotten relief. Along with this, an additional ₹5,630 crore was given to write off non-performing assets (NPAs) of 7 lakh farmers of the state, taking the total farm loan waiver figure to ₹36,359 crore.

It’s been more than two months that the loan waiver has been announced. But, none of the farmers National Herald spoke to has any news of the much-advertised loan waiver package.

Singh, who falls in the category of small farmers, had taken a loan of ₹1 lakh, told National Herald that he has been getting reminders from the cooperative society for repayment of the loan amount. “Every time I go to the local bank, the manager says that he has not received any order from the government about how to proceed with the loan waiver,” he added.

Shiv Kumar, a 35-year-old farmer, took his own life in Sachendi, a suburb in Kanpur, on the night of June 14 by consuming poison because he was unable to repay a sum of ₹70,000 he had borrowed from a local money lender. Hail storm and unwanted rain destroyed his crops. He had taken a piece of land from a landlord on contract for agriculture.

Rajendra Kumar Nishad had taken a ₹80,000 loan to dig a borewell in his small farmland in Kanpur district that he defaulted on. He had pinned his hopes on the Yogi Adityanath government’s loan waiver. But he got a loan recovery notice from the bank.

“If you fail to pay back the money, totalling ₹1.91 lakh with interest, within the next one month, the bank would proceed to auction your 1.08 hectare of farmland to recover the money,” the notice sent out to him by Uttar Pradesh Sahkari Gram Vikas Bank on May 12 reads.

Rajendra tried to make arrangements for the money but failed. Left with no option, he hanged himself from a tree on June 1.

According to his family, they defaulted on repaying the loan because crops failed and they never made enough money to repay the loan.

Senior officials in the state agriculture ministry informed National Herald that the state government did not have clarity as to how to implement the loan waiver scheme. It was yet to issue a detailed guideline about the same, they added.

However, Suresh Rana, Minister of Sugarcane Development in the Yogi Adityanath government, told National Herald, “The state government is committed to implement the loan waiver scheme. We are thinking on the detailed modalities and will soon issue the guidelines,” said Rana, who is also UP BJP unit’s vice-president.

Many managers of nationalised banks in rural areas of western Uttar Pradesh said that they were yet to receive any order from the government about the loan waiver scheme.

The issue of farm loan waiver was also raised at a meeting of Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya with local BJP workers and leaders in Meerut on Friday. When he said that the BJP government had waived off farmers’ loans, party leaders and workers told him that they “face embarrassing questions from the common public regarding deteriorating law and order situation and the farm loan waiver which was yet to reach the farmers,” a party leader who attended the meet said.

Sardar VM Singh, a farmer activist whose effort and legal battle led to several historic judgements in favour of farmers, told National Herald, “It is shocking that the government, which had advertised the so-called farm loan waiver scheme on such a scale, is yet to come up with a detailed guideline on how to implement it.”

“First, the government said it has set aside ₹36,359 crore for loan waiver and loan amounts up to ₹1 lakh per farmer would be waived off. But when we pointed out that the amount is insufficient as there are 2.15 crore bona fide farmers in the state, according to the government figures, the government said the loan amount of 86 lakh farmers will be waived off. Then again, they said the farm loan waiver will be given to those who have taken loans until March 31, 2016. But majority of the farmers borrow a certain sum for seeds and other expenses only after this month,” he explained.

He highlighted that “due to absence of detailed guidelines, there was a view that only those farmers who defaulted on their loans would be given relief and those who were honest enough to pay back their loans would not get it. Honest farmers will be punished.”

He also said that the government would have to implement the waiver scheme because it has come to power on the basis of this electoral promise alone. If it fails, it will have to face widespread protests which have already started in various corners of the state.

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has clarified that the farm loan waiver scheme promised by his government would be implemented soon after the state Assembly passes the Budget 2017-18. The budget session is likely to be convened in July. The Chief Minister’s instructions came amid growing concerns that the government’s much-talked about crop loan waiver scheme has not materialised on the ground and the situation could easily go out of hand.

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Published: 20 Jun 2017, 7:15 PM