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Jharkhand Govt likely to roll out farm loan waivers scheme on Jan 26

Jharkhand government is likely to roll out its promised farm loan waivers for farmers by January-end, sources in the department of agriculture, animal husbandry and dairy development indicated. Sources said that the reluctance of banks to share farmers’ loan database is delaying the actual roll-out.

“As on date, we have identified nearly 48,000 farmers who have filled up their forms for availing loan waivers. The farmers have been identified through the details obtained from the banks. We are pushing to launch the programme on January 26,” a senior officer in the state agriculture department said on anonymity.

In December last year, the state cabinet approved a proposal to waive off farm loans worth up to Rs 50,000. The decision would benefit nine lakh small and marginal farmers of the state, the government had said. A budget of Rs 2,000 crore was also allotted for the waivers.

The decision, which was an implementation of the JMM-Congress-RJD government’s poll promise, was taken to coincide with the grand alliance completing one in office.

Karnataka model as role model

But sources in the department said while it was pushing for the scheme’s roll-out in November last year after studying the models adopted by Karnataka and Maharashtra governments, the dilly-dallying from a PSU bank had delayed the project. “There was a lukewarm response from the banks initially as they were reluctant to share the database of farmers who had taken loans from their branches,” the official said.

“While most banks have shared their details and conducted their trial runs, one PSU bank, which has the most number of loans, is still reluctant. If this continues, we will have to go ahead without the bank. This may cause many beneficiaries to miss out from the waiver unless the bank does its part,” the official added.

SBI and Jharkhand Gramin bank are the key lender

According to the department, the bulk of farm loans disbursed in Jharkhand are through SBI, Bank of India and Jharkhand Gramin Bank.
According to the planning, the details of farmers, their loan amounts and bank branches will be uploaded to a portal which will be developed by the National Informatics Centre.

Based on the portal, deputy commissioners of all districts will be asked to identify the farmers and verify their identity and their claims. The waiver will be extended to one person from a household. Once their credentials are verified, farmers will need to deposit Re 1 as security fee with their nearest pragya kendras (common service centres) or their parent branch.

When contacted by TOI, agriculture secretary Aboobacker Siddiqui said, “Identification process is underway and we are hoping to roll out the scheme by the end of this month.”

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