Maharashtra loan waiver: One staffer dead, another hospitalised due to extreme workload, claims official

Mumbai: Already a gargantuan task since inception, the Rs 34,022 crore ambitious loan waiver scheme Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Shetkari Sanman Yojana covering 89 lakh farmers in Maharashtra has forced many officers to reach breaking point with the Aadhaar related anomalies only making the job far more complicated and demanding for them.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

"At Sinnar in Nashik district assistant registrar Ratilal Ahire died in October and another assistant registrar from Ambegaon, Pune is admitted in a Pune hospital since the last four days. Many officers are suffering from high blood pressure and sugar in the last 50 days or more. The pressure from the Mantralaya prior to and post-Diwali has gone up tremendously," a senior official from the cooperation department who chose to remain anonymous said.

"Due to the hurry to implement the scheme before Diwali, the work could not be done properly. The mess continues even after now. Senior officials like principal secretary (IT) VK Gautam and director (IT) M Sankaranarayanan are busy attending meetings with the private firm associated with the scheme for technical support," the senior official said.

"The pressure on the cooperation department has increased day by day. To protest the pressure and overload of work the Maharashtra State Gazetted Officers Association (MSGOA) has called for an urgent meeting on 3 November in Pune to address the issue of officers who are working round the clock for the last more than four months," he said.

There are 70 different organisations under the banner of MSGOA consisting of 1.25 lakh officers and 16 lakh state government employees.

"We also got information that cooperation department officers are under tremendous pressure for the last four months. As a union, we firmly stand with them and after the Friday meeting we will take appropriate action," MSGOA consultant GD Kulthe told Firstpost.

The officials are under pressure to rectify the faults which were largely made by the concerned banks. The banks did a shoddy job by failing to key in the correct Aadhaar numbers against exact bank accounts of the beneficiary farmers. With the irregularities coming into the public after Firstpost broke the story, the political pressure from the Opposition was immense on the government.

The mess in the loan waiver scheme has snowballed into a major political storm for Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis. The Opposition parties have parked the blame for the mess at the government’s door. They insist, as Sharad Pawar told Firstpost in an exclusive interview, that if the government had released the waiver money to banks without insisting on verification of beneficiary accounts with Aadhaar numbers, the disbursement would have been completed faster.

"It is true that the pressure on our department is huge. I am myself working round the clock since the scheme has been announced. But till now I haven’t received news of an officer's death due to the pressure of work because of the loan waiver scheme," said state Cooperation Minister Subhash Deshmukh.

Talking to Firstpost, Akshay, the son of the Pune official Vitthal Khanadale admitted to a hospital claimed that his father had worked for the last four months without taking holidays.

"The blood pressure shot up so high that we have to bring him to a hospital. He went through an emergency operation to get a blood clot removed in the brain. The continuous 14-hour work every day and a demanding travel schedule on official work resulted in a brain haemorrhage," said Akshay.

Despite putting enormous hours by the officials, the issue is far from resolved and the three key parties involved in the execution of the scheme—state's IT department, cooperation department and the private player—have now started blaming each other for the fiasco.

"In every taluka where the loan waiver scheme is applicable more than 35,000 farmers' form were sorted by only two cooperation officers. The data which has been fed into the computers do not match with the forms filled up by the farmers themselves. How is the cooperation department responsible for this mismatch? We have not fed data into the systems," said an angry officer pointing fingers at the IT department and the private player.

"In the last few months, we are working round the clock. We start our day at 9 am and finished at 11 pm. Without sufficient manpower, it is tough to complete the work in such a short time. In every two hours, we get a call from the Mantralaya asking for updated numbers. When we don't have the accurate data how can we give them? If any mistakes happen they will make us scapegoat," he said.

There are 1,000 plus officers working for the loan waiver scheme from cooperation department.

Firstpost had reviewed a list comprising 273 beneficiary farmer names, which is part of the 8.5 lakh entries that were submitted to the State Level Bankers' Committee, a lobby of banks.

The list showed serious discrepancies in the entries submitted by around 35 banks including private, state-owned and district cooperative banks to SLBC.

In the 273 entries, 10 randomly generated Aadhaar numbers were used against multiple entries of farmers.

According to the data, available with Firstpost, Santosh Jayram Shinde is a farmer with Aadhaar number 111111110157. Dilip Anand Kute is also a farmer and has the same Aadhar number 111111110157 so has Dilip Ramchandra Kachale, also a farmer.

Likewise, Balvant Bandu Vajanari, Sangram Vasant Chavan, Keshav Rangrao Chavan, Suman Vilasrao Patil, Ganpatrao Ramchandra Pawar, Chandrakant Vasant Yadhav, Jayavant Shamrao Satpe, Sangita Hanmant Chavan and several other farmers set to benefit from the Devendra Fadnavis government's loan waiver scheme bear the same Aadhaar number 100000000000. In fact, there are 177 entries made against it. The Aadhaar number 111111111111 features in 45 entries against names like Chandrakant Kashinath Deshmukh, Prakash Dhondu More, Ranjeet Khashaba Jadhav among others.

In many instances, different loan accounts are used against same people. In one instance, the loan account number has a decimal in between. The savings accounts in most cases are different, however, on multiple occasions, the same farmer is listed for multiple loan waivers, often under the same loan account. So, a farmer named Jayvant Shamrao Satpe is listed for loan waiver under loan account 69 and saving bank account number 14905110003020 three times, twice under loan account 71 and saving bank account number 14905110005972, and thrice under loan account 72 and savings bank account number 14905110000204. All these entries are adjusted against the Aaadhar number 100000000000. Thus, the same farmer is shown eligible for loan waiver eight times.

In one instance, a farmer named Suresh Bautis Lopes comes with account number '0' and one of the most repeated Aadhaar number 111111111111.

According to source in SLBC, the number of farmers with identical Aadhaar and savings bank account numbers provided by banks to the state government runs into lakhs. In fact, such lists of farmers with apparently bogus Aadhaar and savings account numbers have been provided to the state government by national banks, district cooperative banks and commercial banks, highly placed sources in SLBC had told Firstpost.


Updated Date: Nov 01, 2017 22:47 PM

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