"Sir jee, ek lakh rupay mein yeh dus rupay, rayi ke daane barabar hai. Hum iska kya karenge? (This Rs 10 amount makes a mustard size difference in my loan amount of Rs one lakh)," said Awadh Bihar, looking at the loan waiver certificate he was handed over by the bank earlier this week.
Awadh, who hails from Hamidpur district had taken a loan of Rs one lakh in 2015 through the Kisan Credit Card scheme available to farmers from banks. As the crops failed due to extreme weather conditions, Awadh could not repay the loan amount.
While he should have got a loan waiver for the full amount of Rs one lakh, all he was offered was Rs 10. "When the government announced the waiver scheme, I was happy. But now, I feel cheated and conned by the government," Awadh said.
In April, weeks after Yogi Adityanath took the chief minister's chair, he approved the 'Krishi Wrin Mochan Yojana' – a scheme waving off crop loans to farmers. With a ceiling of Rs one lakh, the Uttar Pradesh government had in its announcement claimed that it would help 86 lakh small and marginal farmers across the state. The scheme was launched with much fanfare on 17 August and it was announced that loan waiver certificates would be distributed 5 September onwards.
Soon after the banks issued certificates to small and marginal farmers, reports started trickling in that they had received waivers for ridiculously low0 amounts – some even as low as one paise. Many farmers, like Awadh, were left shell-shocked.
As per the government data, nearly 4,814 farmers out of the total 11,93,224 beneficiaries of the scheme have received loan waiver certificates ranging from Rs one to Rs 100. This is turning out to be a huge embarrassment for the Uttar Pradesh government.
While the government is yet to fully investigate the matter, Adityanath said recently in an interview to a Hindi daily that the state government was not at fault. But when Firstpost reached out to banks who issued the loan waiver certificates, they alleged that the goof up was the result of a technicality in the loan benefits that had been completely overlooked by the government.
Firstpost spoke to a bank manager in Farrukhabad, who on condition of anonymity said: "The Kisan Credit Scheme is not like other regular loans. Here, if a farmer pays X amount today as a loan instalment, he/she can withdraw it again when they need it. The confusion arose because the cutoff date taken into consideration by the government for loan waiver did not account for the loan amount taken by them again within the next few days," he said. Many of the farmers have repaid the loan in part and full only to withdraw it again.
For instance, if a farmer who availed Rs one lakh as a loan in June 2015 repaid Rs 30,000 in December 2015, then his due as on 1 January 2016 would've been Rs 70,000. He'd eligible for that amount as a waiver. However, since it is a credit scheme, the farmer could withdraw again as he was prompt with his earlier repayment. So, in this case, had the farmer taken Rs 30,000 loan again the subsequent day, the government would not have considered this for the waiver.
Kisan Credits are given to farmers on the basis of their holdings so that they can use them to readily purchase agriculture inputs such as seeds, fertilisers, pesticides etc and draw cash for their production needs.
According to data released by the Uttar Pradesh government, out of 11,93,224 farmers whose loans were waived off during the first phase of the scheme, 4,814 received loan waivers ranging from Rs 1-100, about 6,895 farmers received Rs 100-500, and 5,553 farmers received waivers of Rs 500-1,000.
Those who received Rs 1,000-10,000 were numbered at 41,690, while 11,27,890 farmers received waivers worth more than Rs 10,000. When Firstpost crunched the numbers, it was found that 6,383 farmers were still unaccounted for from the total of 11,93,224. When asked, a senior officer who did not wish to be quoted said, 'there was a possible miscalculation on their part'.
However, most ministers and government officials termed it as a "clerical error" when questioned about why farmers are receiving loan waiver of such low amounts.
State Minister for Labour and Employment Manoharlal Mannu Kori who is also the minister-in-charge for Hamirpur lashed out at media persons for questioning the issue. "It could be a typographical error and these farmers will eventually get the loan money waived. It is a very small issue and the media should not take it so seriously," he said. Similar views were expressed by Surya Pratap Shahi, cabinet minister for agriculture research and agriculture education.
"From now onwards, we (BJP) will not issue certificates to the farmers whose loan waiver is less than Rs 100. Only farmers who have had loan amounts more than Rs 10,000 will be waived off. And they will be called on stage to talk about themselves," Shahi said.
When Firstpost contacted Rajendra Pratap Pandey, district magistrate, Hamirpur, he refused to comment on the issue, terming them "useless" queries of the media.
Dev Pratap Singh, a farmer from the Bijnor district who received Rs 42 as a waiver against his loan worth Rs one lakh, said, "This is the reason why farmers commit suicide in this country. They raised our hopes and now what have they handed to us?"
Another farmer, Balvir Kumar from Chanderi in Farrukhabad district of Uttar Pradesh does not know whether he should laugh or cry or be angry. Kumar got a loan waiver of just 51 paise against his loan of Rs 93,000. He had sold his land and repaid part of the loan – Rs 56,000.
He said that an agent even took Rs 400 from him to arrange for the documents needed for the loan waiver. As per the rules, Kumar should have been eligible for a Rs 37,000 loan-waiver.
"When I saw the certificate, I couldn't believe it said 51 paise. The amount does not even exist now. There is no 50 paise coin also. How is this possible?" he said.
(Story contribution: Danish Mirza from Bijnor, Anand Awasthi from Hamirpur, Yogesh Bharadwaj from Mathura, Jitendra Dubey from Farrukhabad and Saurabh Sharma from Lucknow. All the reporters are members of 101Reporters.com, a pan-India network of grassroots reporters.)
Updated Date: Sep 21, 2017 19:46 PM