Over one million Rajasthan farmers to get loan waiver twice

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Many Rajasthan farmers who have again taken loans, will again benefit from the Ashok Gehlot government scheme.(HT Photo )

Around 13.5 lakh farmers in Rajasthan are set to get farm-loan waiver twice in a year. First, by the previous Bharatiya Janata Party government and now by the new Congress government.

On Wednesday, chief minister Ashok Gehlot said farm loans of all 24.44 lakh farmers taken from the cooperative banks costing the state exchequer Rs 9,500 crore will be waived. Of them, 13.5 lakh farmers had benefitted from the loan waiver of up to Rs 50,000 given by Vasundhara Raje-led BJP government.

Earlier, the Congress government had announced that 11 lakh farmers, who had outstanding loans between Rs 50,000 and Rs 2 lakh taken from cooperative banks, will have their loans waived as loan up to Rs 50,000 was already written off by the previous government in September-October 2018.

As the cut-off date for farm loan waiver is till November 30, 2018, officials said that many of these farmers have again taken loans and will again benefit from the government scheme. The officials in the finance department said they had objected to giving benefit of loan waiver to these farmers twice but were overruled by the government.

“Since the 13.5 lakh farmers were from the small and marginal category and in view of the politically sensitive issue of loan waiver, the government decided to include them in the loan waiver,” an official familiar with the matter said.

Talking to reporters at the Congress office here, CM Gehlot confirmed that loans of farmers who had got benefit of loan waiver during the BJP regime would also be waived. “Our government is committed to fulfil the promises made and decision has been taken,” he said.

Gehlot said in-charge ministers will go to their respective districts and inaugurate the loan waiver camps. After that the camps will continue to be held at the Gram Sewa Sahakari Samiti (GSSS) level. “All the promises made by Congress for cooperative and land development banks – in the first phase all the loans of farmers will be waived,” he said.

On loan waiver for farmers who have taken loans from commercial and rural banks, he said officials are in talks with the banks. “When there are non-performing assets (NPAS) of any businessmen or industrialist, then the banks and related party sit down to try and reduces the interest and see how the principal amount can be paid through installments. Whatever decision is made will be done after discussions with commercial banks. We have promised waiver up to Rs 2 lakh which have become NPAS.”

In the first phase, 165 loan waiver camps where the beneficiary farmers will be given loan waiver certificates will be held across the state from February 7-9. On February 7, 33 camps will be held, while 66 camps each will be held on February 8 and 9.

Ahead of the camps, the government is verifying the farmers who will be given loan waiver. Cases of fraud have come to light in the loan waiver scheme of the previous BJP government where those who had not taken loans or were deceased persons or were not farmers or were residing out of Rajasthan were given waivers.

To prevent such a situation, the cooperative department has sent bulk SMS to farmers asking them to verify their details at their GSSS. At the GSSS, the farmers have to verify their details through their Aadhaar cards, after which the waiver will be processed, said cooperatives registrar Neeraj K Pawan.