BENGALURU: On July 5, Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy announced a partial crop loan waiver for farmers of Karnataka. Three weeks later, the process hasn’t moved an inch.
In fact, the government is yet to reimburse banks for the waiver announced by the previous Siddaramaiah government, leave alone beginning the process of clearing loans announced by Kumaraswamy.
Apart from claims of talking to bankers, the government hasn’t even issued guidelines to banks or entered into an understanding on how to go about the farm loan waiver. On Tuesday, Kumaraswamy is expected to address the State Level Bankers Committee (SLBC) where representatives of all banks in the state are expected to make their stand clear on the loan waiver. Farmers in the state, however, have given the government an ultimatum accusing Kumaraswamy of mere lip service.
“Rs 1,500 crore have been released so far to cooperative banks,” said a source from the CMO when asked about the progress. This amount, however, is only the first installment of the pending waiver announced by Siddaramaiah.
The government should pay banks another instalment to clear off the waiver announced by the previous government even before they begin clearing loans announced by Kumaraswamy. “Bankers will submit a list of loan accounts during Tuesday’s meet along with an estimate of how much the waiver will cost the exchequer,” the source added, confirming that banks will be reimbursed as and when the state’s treasury fills up.
SLBC, however, is yet to prepare a list of beneficiaries. The committee of bankers is awaiting the government’s guidelines.
“So far, nothing has been finalised. We are yet to received the guidelines. Preparing the list of defaulters is a long process because of the amount of information that is required. Preparation of list will be done only after guidelines are issued,” said an office bearer of the SLBC who did not wish to be named. A solid announcement from bankers is expected on Tuesday post the meeting.
Farmers, however, are not amused. Giving the government a deadline of August 15, Karnataka State Farmers Union has pledged to go on a statewide bandh if the government fails to take concrete measures.
“First, he (Kumaraswamy) said all loans will be waived off, then said farm loans will be considered. He converted that to just crop loan waiver and now has announced a waiver of outstanding loans but not running them. The CM is simply lying,” said Kodihalli Chandrashekhar, President, KRRS.
Sources in the government had claimed that the process of the waiver would take three months to take off.
However, the inordinate delay in even issuing guidelines to banks, especially after the CM claimed on the floor of the house that bankers have been taken into confidence, has not gone down well with farmers.