Loan waiver: HDK launches helpline for farmers

Former CM H D Kumaraswamy

Former chief minister H D Kumaraswamy has opened a helpline for farmers to address their doubts on the crop loan waiver, his pet project that appears to be struggling to cross the finish line. 

"Every day, hundreds of farmers come to my house seeking information on their crop loan waiver," the JD(S) leader said in a tweet Monday. "I've started a crop loan waiver helpline 9164305868 to save farmers the trouble of coming from far off. They can call from home between 10 am and 5 pm and get details on the loan waiver," he said.

The helpline, managed by the JD(S) IT cell, received over 1,250 calls on the first day. 

The crop loan waiver was Kumaraswmay's poll promise, which he implemented even as he shared power with the Congress, and amid concerns that it would hit the state's finances. The waiver covered loans between April 2009 and December 2017. 

It involved crediting Rs 25,000 into the accounts of farmers with regular loans and crediting up to Rs 2 lakh in all other loan accounts, including non-performing assets (NPA). 

Initial estimates put the loan waiver at Rs 46,753 crore covering more than 42 lakh farmers in commercial and cooperative banks. A software was put in place to determine the eligibility of farmers who were asked to submit Aadhaar, ration card and land survey numbers. But the waiver reduced to under Rs 20,000 crore due to various eligibility conditions imposed on farmers. 

Till date, the government has paid banks Rs 13,522 crore towards crop loans borrowed by 24.69 lakh farmers, according to data made available by the government. About 1.21 lakh are yet to be covered due to discrepancies in their details. Sources said these are farmers who were not found during physical verification of their residence. "We still have about Rs 1,600 crore with us for the waiver. As and when we find eligible farmers, their loans will be waived," an official said, adding that the scheme was 90% complete. 

Kumaraswamy's helpline initiative has not impressed farmer leader Chamarasa Mali Patil. "What's the point in starting a helpline when he's not in power," he asked. "While he was in power, we kept telling him of problems farmers faced. Many of them weren't considered for the waiver saying their documents weren't in order and some got the money credited to their accounts only to be withdrawn later," he said. 

Citing his own example, Patil said he has crop loan of about Rs 10 lakh. "I was to get Rs 2 lakh waived, but all I got was Rs 25,000."

 

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