Almost a week after Maharashtra announced its historic loan waiver scheme, farmers are yet to receive funds.
Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, Finance Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar, Cooperation Minister Subhash Deshmukh and Agriculture Minister Pandurang Fundkar— all BJP men—are struggling to implement the scheme.
And worse, instead of 8 lakh farmers who will receive benefits in the first phase, due to problems with data that number is set to be halved.
Sources said that when Shiv Sena's Diwakar Raote and Fundkar, among others, enquired on Tuesday why the money allotted to farmers was not being disbursed, Fadnavis stated that it was a technical issue.
But the delay was far from limited only to technical glitches. Rampant irregularities have been detected in the whole process as documents accessed by Firstpost showed multiple names were allocated against one Aadhaar number while on many occasions the same individual appeared more than once.
The State Levels Bankers Committee (SLBC) then told Fadnavis that the data provided by nationalised banks was full of errors and incomplete, which has delayed the implementation of the scheme, sources added.
Fadnavis ordered an emergency meeting Wednesday with his Cabinet and officials from the SLBC.
Maharashtra received 56.59 lakh applications from farming families for its loan waiver scheme. But a senior Information and Technology Department (IT) official said only 20 lakh accounts were found operation and eligible and that the IT Department was finding it difficult to verify every bank account with the data they procured from the SLBC.
In many cases, the principal and interest did not match the loan amount.
In most cases, the amount of the loan waiver certificate is greater than the loan amount stated.
Some farmers' names are in the defaulters' list, the official added.
"Due to the insufficient data our job is very difficult. The chief minister has called an urgent meeting with officials from nationalised banks, SLBC officials and his Cabinet on Wednesday," an official involved in the loan waiver scheme, speaking on the condition of anonymity, confirmed to Firstpost.
On 18 October, Fadnavis announced that his government released Rs 4,000 crore in the first phase of the Rs 34,022 crore loan waiver scheme.
Fadnavis said more than 8 lakh farmers would be covered in the first phase and the loans of 4.62 lakh farmers worth Rs 3,200 crore would be written off.
Fadnavis said some nationalised and district banks were attempting to submit fake information to try to reap the benefits of the loan waiver scheme.
"We have identified the banks and state intimate the Centre about these banks which diverted funds."
Maharashtra cooperation minister Subhash Deshmukh told Firstpost the money would be deposited in the bank accounts of farmers starting Thursday. He chalked up the delay to the Diwali holidays.
Deshmukh said that under the UPA government's 2008 loan waiver scheme, a number of 'ghost' accounts received funds. "No one knows who benefitted from the Rs 287 crore distributed in Mumbai," he said.
On 18 October, Maharashtra started distributing no loan pending certificates to farmers found eligible for the scheme.
But so far, farmers have only received their certificates.
On 22 June, the BJP-led government announced that 89 lakh farmers would be benefited by this scheme and that the burden on the state would be Rs 34,022 crore. But they received only 77.27 lakh applications. Online registration and loan waiver filtered out more than 12 lakh farmers, saving the taxpayer Rs 10,000 crore.
Fundkar told Firstpost that while the government has not specified a timeline for reimbursement to be disbursed, the government considers 30 November as the deadline.
"The IT Department will find and solve the technical errors. We will sort it out quickly and in the next two days the funds will begin being deposited in farmers' accounts," Fundkar said.
VK Gautam, principal secretary of IT Department remained unavailable for comment.
Updated Date: Oct 26, 2017 00:40:51 IST