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Maharashtra: Agriculture Minister warns of action against banks delaying crop loan disbursal

Radheshyam Jadhav Pune | Updated on July 07, 2020 Published on July 07, 2020

Asking banks to disburse 100 per cent crop loans to farmers by this month-end, Maharashtra Agriculture Minister Dadaji Bhuse ordered the State machinery to file cases against banks if they fail to meet the target.

During his visit to Vidarbha region, Bhuse said, “Farmers need crop loan to purchase seeds, fertilisers, and pesticides. Over 90 per cent loans must be disbursed before sowing starts. Banks have just disbursed 27 per cent loan even as 73 per cent kharif sowing is completed in the State”.

The Minister added: “If banks fail to respond, the government will take stringent steps. The district collector and deputy registrar must review disbursal every two days”.

The State government has deposited the loan waiver amount into loan accounts of farmers under the State scheme. “This amount was deposited before the lockdown to ensure that these farmers get fresh loans. Banks were supposed to process loan proposal of these farmers,” said the Minister.

After assuming office last December, the ruling Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress alliance announced the loan waiver scheme, to benefit 32 lakh farmers in Maharashtra. By March 31 about 19 lakh farmers had benefited from the scheme, with loans worth ₹12,000 crore being waived. However, the government is yet to pay the outstanding amount of ₹8,200 crore of the remaining 11.15 lakh farmers as the lockdown has severely affected the State’s income.

United Forum of Bank Unions (UFBU-Maharashtra) has earlier stated that banks are unable to sanction fresh crop loans to some farmers as rules don’t permit them to extend fresh loans when existing crop loan accounts have turned non-performing. The targeted groups of farmers to whom the crop loans are to be disbursed are in dire need of debt relief package from the Central/State Governments, according to the UFBU. The Forum has also approached Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray clarifying its stand.

However, farmers have landed in trouble as the government and banks exchange letters. Shetkari Sanghatana President Anil Ghanwat said that farmers are struggling to carry out sowing operations as banks are not providing loans and the government is not taking any steps to release the loan waiver amount into farmers’ accounts. Experts fear that private money lenders will reap the benefit of the ongoing stalemate.

 

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Published on July 07, 2020
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