4.90 lakh defaulter farmers owe crores to commercial, cooperative, regional rural banks

*KCC scheme leaves farmers in huge debt                                   * No source to repay

*Agricultural produce depends on season                                    *waiver scheme not operational             

  Not only in Vidharb region of Maharashtra, farmers in Jammu and Kashmir are distressed for being unable to pay back loans worth crores of rupees to the banks who had extended them these loans under Kisan Credit Card (KCC) scheme.

According to details available with Newspoint, Farmers owe a whooping Rs 4,12.69 crores to the private as well as cooperative and regional rural banks. Reports indicate that farmers have no resource to pay back loans taken under Kisan Credit Card scheme. According to details, commercial banks issued 4,53,699 Kisan Credit Cards. Out of these, just 2,40,353 cards are operative while all others have either turned bad or have been closed by the borrower.

Out of the inoperative Kisan Credit Cards, a whooping Rs. 311 crores is outstanding against the farmers under the crop loan segment of the Kisan Credit Card scheme. More shocking is the fact that around 6100 farmers have to pay back around 58.69 crores to commercial banks under term loan scheme. In Jammu and Kashmir where Cooperative banks have been marked red by Reserve Bank of India (RBI), 33,690 cards were extended by these banks to the farmers.

These cards, according to a report available with Newspoint Bureau, have mostly been issued on the   recommendations of various ministers and political leaders. They added that due to system having been bypassed; Rs 261.66 crores is outstanding against 33,690 farmers who availed loans under KCC from various cooperative banks. They said that on the similar pattern, regional rural banks have issued 16,343 Kisan Credit Cards (KCCs).

These banks are now after the life of the farmers. Sending them notice after notice for paying back the bank loans. Farmers owe Rs 99.3 crores to these regional rural banks. Officials of these banks told Newspoint Bureau that despite government have announced 50 percent credit card loan waiver scheme, they have not received the kind of response that they expected. 50,033 farmers owe Rs 36.69 crores to these banks but they are not in a condition to pay back.

The government did announce a 50 percent waiver yet banks have not been able to recover the loans from the farmers who face both financial as well as resource crunch.  The previous government led by Late Mufti Mohammed Sayeed had announced 50 percent waiver Kisan Credit Card (KCC) loans in case of small and vulnerable farmers in view of the crop loss suffered by them due to floods. But this was never implemented in letter and spirit.

No such benefit was provided to the farmers and the announcement was only verbal and nothing had been done on the ground. The distressed farmers are running from pillar to post to find some way out of this messy situation but to no avail. A bank official told Newspoint Bureau that a major obstacle the farming community faces is the total dependence on agriculture, which does not provide employment throughout the year due to seasonality of crops.

“Rural distress is caused because farmers do not have a regular source of income; they receive income in lumps,” said an economist. He added that there is a need to create other activities that give a farmer a regular income source; only farming is not enough. “Farming also is far more subject to the vagaries of weather than other activities such as diary, poultry and others,” added the economist.

Stressing that it was the duty of the Government to take immediate steps to prevent distressed farmers from committing suicide, Vice-Chairman of Jammu and Kashmir State Advisory Board for Development of Kissans Daljeet Singh Chib said that they had a meeting on this issue with ex-Chief Minister Mufti Mohammed Sayeed. He added that the issue had been discussed in detail with him and he had assured that requisite steps would be taken to address woes of farmers.

In that meeting, Finance Minister Haseeb Drabu had assured that relief would be given to the farmers. “He had told us that banks had been asked to submit details of the defaulters of KCC. Once the details are available, the waiver scheme would be implemented throughout the state,” said Chib. He assured that as and when the new PDP-BJP government comes up, this issue would be addressed as a matter of priority.

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