Farm Loan Waiver Plan Fraud Shames UPA
By Yatish Yadav | Published: 02nd February 2014 07:09 AM |
A scheme introduced five years ago to benefit impoverished farmers pushed to the brink of starvation is coming back to haunt the UPA government as details of a massive fraud emerge.
The farmers’ loan waiver scheme, once touted as a trump card for the UPA, has become a source of embarrassment, just months before the General Elections. The government has admitted massive fraud, irregularities and tampering of data by officials in the Rs 65,000 crore welfare project.
The government recently told the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) that action will be taken against those found guilty of pushing tampered and ineligible farmers’ lists and so far it has initiated 3,679 cases against erring babus responsible for irregularities to the tune of `230 crore. The PAC report, which examined the Comptroller & Auditor General’s (CAG) report on Debt Relief Scheme (DRS) in January will be tabled in the coming session of Parliament.
Admitting massive irregularities before the PAC, the Department of Financial Services said: “Now the fact is somebody who is not eligible got it and somebody who is eligible did not get it or alternatively there was a case of tampering or alternation. This could not happen unless the bank staff concerned made a mistake and a mistake which was apparent on the face of it.”
The loan waiver scheme was initiated by the UPA in 2008 to write off bank loans of 3.69 crore small and marginal farmers in 35 states and Union Territories. Approximately 60 lakh other farmers were offered debt relief in the form of waiver of 25 per cent of the eligible amount on condition that the farmers would pay the remaining 75 per cent under a one- time settlement scheme.
The Department of Financial Services under the Ministry of Finance had appointed RBI and National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development as nodal agencies to monitor the implementation of the scheme for banks under their control, including rural banks and cooperative societies. Of the total beneficiaries, 1.85 crore owed money to government-owned banks and 1.88 crore to lending institutions under NABARD.