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Maharashtra loan waiver: PMO dials top bureaucrats, seeks report on Aadhaar goof-ups, wrong accounts

Mumbai: With the first leg of the farm loan waiver totally going haywire due to the failure of the banks to key in correct Aadhaar numbers against the accounts of the beneficiaries, a concerned Prime Minister's Office called up senior bureaucrats in Maharashtra seeking a report on the entire fiasco.

Representational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

"The PMO wanted to know what the real problems are that the administration is facing to release the money to the farmers' bank accounts. How can the banks provide such inaccurate data of Aadhaar card and how was the same inaccurate data uploaded by the state IT department and not cross-checked by the cooperation department? Why were fake farmers' names included in the list and why is the certificate of loan waiver blank with no mention of the amount waived?" a senior IAS official told Firstpost on condition of anonymity.

The PMO wanted to know how one Aadhaar card number ended up being linked to the bank accounts of over 180 farmers, how multiple loan account numbers of the beneficiary farmers were incorrect, what went wrong in filling up the online data and what the overall status of the farm loan waiver scheme is.

According to sources, Maharashtra cadre IAS officer Shrikar Keshav Pardeshi who is on deputation at the PMO as a director called up additional chief secretary (agriculture) Bijay Kumar, principal secretary (IT) Vijay Kumar Gautam, additional chief secretary (cooperation) Sukhbir Singh Sandhu and also concerned officials in the Chief Minister's Office.

"I told the PMO that I am not handling the subject alone. I informed the PMO that the state's IT and cooperation departments are handling the farm loan waiver scheme as well," Bijay Kumar told Firstpost, refusing to divulge more details.

However, when Firstpost called up Shrikar Pardeshi, he refused to comment on the matter.

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.

After Firstpost broke the story on the irregularities on Tuesday, Fadnavis has been facing intense heat from the Opposition.

In an exclusive interview to Firstpost at his Silver Oak Estate residence in South Mumbai, NCP supremo Sharad Pawar came down heavily on the implementation of the farmer loan waiver scheme.

"In the UPA regime, we provided the highest loan waiver in the country of Rs 71,000 crore. Out of that, Maharashtra received over Rs 8,000 crore in loan waivers in 2008-09," recalled Pawar, "What we did was simple: We appointed a committee and after it submitted a report, we held a discussion with banks. We directly deposited the money into banks. We asked banks for a list of defaulting farmers in according to branches and then waived the loans. It's so simple. But the BJP-led government and especially the chief minister has no faith in banks. It's very shocking to me."

Pawar went on to say that he has "never seen such a childish Maharashtra chief minister in the past".

Former Maharashtra chief minister and senior Congress leader Prithviraj Chavan on Thursday said that the onus lies with his predecessor for the goof-up as Fadnavis had himself announced that online submission and Aadhaar number are mandatory to avail benefits under the loan waiver scheme.

"Aadhaar is made compulsory by the government, and not by banks. The government is not able to get its Information Technology Act together. The chief minister's mindset is that loan waivers only help banks and most cooperative banks are controlled by the NCP and the Congress. It's a totally baseless allegation," Chavan had told Firstpost in an exclusive interview.

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 told Firstpost.


Updated Date: Oct 27, 2017 22:52 PM

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