Farm loan waiver scam: Manmohan assures stringent action against wrongdoers

A.M. Jigeesh New Delhi | Updated on March 12, 2018

The Prime Minister’s assurance came in the Rajya Sabha as the BJP created uproar over the alleged “siphoning off” of farmers’ money and a “scam” in the farm loan waiver scheme in the wake of the CAG report.

No misappropriation, says Pawar

The Government and the Opposition agreed on a “structured debate” in Parliament on the way the Agricultural Debt Waiver and Debt Relief Scheme of 2008 was implemented.

While Prime Minister Manmohan Singh promised stringent action against the wrongdoers, Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar ruled out any misappropriation and sought a comprehensive audit of the scheme.

Both Houses of Parliament witnessed uproarious scenes and adjournments over the CAG report, tabled on Tuesday. The Government auditor had pulled up the Department of Financial Services for deficient monitoring of the Rs 52,000-crore farm debt waiver scheme, announced in the 2008 Budget.

When the Opposition demanded his response on the issue, Manmohan Singh assured the Rajya Sabha that stringent action would be taken against those guilty of lapses in implementation. He said, as is the normal practice, the matter should be entrusted to the Public Accounts Committee. “If there are any irregularities, which have been shown, I assure the House that we will take stringent possible action against the defaulters,” the Prime Minister said.

Pawar said there was no question of any misappropriation as the scheme was implemented by banks under supervision of the RBI and Nabard. “Banks have directly deposited the money into the accounts of the beneficiaries,” Pawar told reporters.

The Agriculture Minister, however, felt that the sample size considered by the CAG in auditing the scheme was too small and that its scope should be expanded. The CAG audited the records of only 90,576 farmers, while the total number of beneficiaries was 3.7 crore, Pawar said. “I hope the banks will recover the money from those beneficiaries who were ineligible,” Pawar added.

Earlier in Rajya Sabha, during zero hour, Deputy Leader of Opposition Ravi Shankar Prasad said bank officials, in connivance with the middlemen, had siphoned money from the farmers. Waving a Reserve Bank of India circular, he urged the Government to explain why it did not act despite the circular issued months ago, asking banks to take action against the guilty ‘within a fortnight’.

This issue was reflected in the Lok Sabha too. To placate the protesting Opposition, the Government has agreed to debate the issue in Parliament. “The Government knew about the loot of thousands of crores meant for the farmers but did not take any action. Why was no action taken? Who were protecting these looters?” asked CPI(M) leader, Basudeb Acharia.



Published on March 06, 2013

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