Loan waiver procedure causes concern among farmers

The procedure to be adopted by borrowers to avail the benefits of the ₹12,100 crore crop loan waiver scheme has caused concern among a section of farmers who fear that the conditions might affect their chances of availing crop loans in future.

Soon after the announcement of the mega loan waiver scheme by Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami, a circular was sent to the cooperative societies directing them to collect the Aadhaar numbers, copies of voter identification cards and other documents from borrowers to ensure that the benefit reached the correct person.

Officials contend that the move to seek such documents was intended to ascertain whether a farmer had taken multiple loans or not. But some farmers, especially tenant farmers, fear that it could lead to a situation wherein they might not be able to avail loans in future.

Pointing out that almost half the number of cultivators in the Delta region were tenant farmers, G. Sethuraman, president, Tamizhaga Vivasayigal Nalasangam, said such farmers might have entered into lease agreements with landlords or religious institutions or trusts having landholdings in different villages or under different survey numbers in the same village.

Hitherto, they used to avail crop loans from the cooperative institutions by producing “adangal” – a document issued by the village administrative officers stating that so and so had taken up cultivation on a particular survey number falling under the land records of the hamlet.

Suspecting that insistence of Aadhaar number to avail the benefits of the current scheme might be a prelude to “One Aadhaar, one crop loan” system in future, Mr. Sethuraman feared that such a decision would sound the death knell for the landless tenant farmers or tiny farmers.

Stating that crop loan disbursement through cooperative institutions has already turned murkier, P. Sugumaran, joint secretary, Thanjavur District Cauvery Farmers Protection Association, observed that any reforms aimed at streamlining the financial support to the agricultural sector should be implemented in such a manner that the interests of tenant, small and marginal farmers were not affected.

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