Wait ahead for farmers for loan waiver -Piyush Srivastava

-The Telegraph

Lucknow: Implementation of the crop loan waiver that Yogi Adityanath's government had announced on April 4 faces a fresh threat of delay, this time because of poor Internet connectivity in the border regions.

Adityanath had on Friday asked district administrations to collect the loan data from the banks and upload them on their websites by July 31 and then start handing out the waiver certificates.

But hundreds of bank branches have informed the state government they can't send the data to the district administration offices because of poor Internet connectivity.

A senior government official who asked not to be quoted said it would be impossible to finish collating the data by the deadline, and the farmers would need to wait at least an extra month if not more.

Government sources told this newspaper that at least 3,500 of the state's 9,000-odd bank branches had yet not provided the data.

"Poor Internet connection is the culprit in the rural areas of the districts neighbouring Nepal, such as Siddharthnagar, Maharajganj, Kushinagar, Lakhimpur Kheri, Bahraich and Shravasti," an official said.

"We have suggested the district magistrates install 40 to 50 computers at a place of their choosing in the district where Internet connectivity is good and bring the bank officials there to help upload the data. But such bulk procurement of computers and their installation will be a lengthy process in our bureaucratic set-up."

Early last month, influential farmer body Bharatiya Kisan Union had threatened a "Madhya Pradesh-like agitation" if the waiver wasn't implemented soon.

It had alleged that 30,000 farmers eligible for the waiver had received recovery notices from their banks, which had claimed they hadn't received any notification about the waiver from the government.

That threat seems to have blown over although minor protests continue to be held.

The government will waive crop loans up to Rs 1 lakh taken by marginal and small farmers before March 31 last year, a cut-off the farmers' say will help only habitual defaulters and not those who duly repay loans every year.

But the government has ignored demands to waive loans taken in the just-ended financial year too.

Some farmer groups have also protested the decision not to extend the waiver to self-help groups that have taken crop loans for their members.

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The Telegraph, 16 July, 2017, https://www.telegraphindia.com/1170717/jsp/nation/story_162319.jsp#.WWwHjiYZZAo.twitter

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