Public sector banks in Maharashtra have finally started disbursing the emergency aid of Rs 10,000 - promised by the state government on June 11 - for the eligible nine million farmers, a top official said on Thursday.
"The work has begun in full swing after a meeting of the Bankers Committee last week. Till now, around 7,000 farmers have been given Rs 10,000. We are confident that by next week the work will be completed," the Pune-based Maharashtra Cooperation Commissioner Vijay Zade told IANS.
The development came after the issue was first highlighted by IANS (July 22) on the massive delays in disbursing the Rs 10,000 immediate aid as part of the comprehensive farm loans waiver scheme announced on June 11 by the state government.
According to the latest official figures, a total of 6,990 farmers have been disbursed Rs 6,74,99,000 from district cooperative banks, rural banks and nationalized banks.
"The ball has been set rolling after Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis summoned a meeting of all banks at the State Level Bankers Committee (SLBC) on July 21. Upset over the delays he ordered all banks to take immediate measures to clear the Rs 10,000 immediate aid," Vasantrao Naik Sheti Swavalambi Mission Chairman Kishore Tiwari told IANS from Nagpur.
Zade said some banks did not implement the directives earlier as they did not receive the SLBC and the respective individual banks' clearance on time though the state government had already provided its guarantee to the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).
After the matter became an embarrassment for the government, the banks have finally fallen in line and started the disbursal to the farmers.
Till date, distressed farmers in 30 districts, excluding a few like Nandurbar, Dhule, Jalgaon, Mumbai and Mumbai suburban, have started getting the promised aid announced on June 11.
The government had issued its order on June 14 asking the eligible farmers to collect this amount the next day (June 15) but the banks did not entertain them.
Strangely, despite the government orders of June 14, it managed to provide the bank guarantee only after three weeks - on July 4 - but the disbursal process began only after another 20 days, Tiwari pointed out.
Earlier, of the nine million eligible farmers, a paltry 3,200 had been given as immediate aid, mostly by the Vidarbha-Konkan Gramin Bank, Maharashtra Gramin Bank and District Central Cooperative Banks.
"However, the insensitive banks and bureaucrats had made a joke of even the small amount of Rs 10,000. Owing to their negative temperament, the farmers' suicides continue unabated," Tiwari added.