Crop loan waiver in Karnataka unlikely before Lok Sabha polls


Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy’s flagship programme—crop loan waiver scheme may not bring him the expected political dividends in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls as the delivery on his promise is likely to take at least two to four years.

The programme which has been put on a fast track on a pilot basis in Doddaballpur taluk in Bengaluru Rural district and Sedam taluk in Kalaburgi district – started a week ago, and the process of verifying creditor information is likely to be completed by end of this year. The pilot crop loan waiver scheme introduced is progressing in a steady manner, as the last date for banks to complete verification is December 10.

Various issues faced in implementing the scheme are being addressed on a daily basis, according to officials. As for delivering the benefit of the scheme to farmers in the rest of the state, it is bound to take two to four years, according to top officials who are involved in its implementation. Bank officials in both Sedam and Doddaballapur agree that none of the farmers would benefit before the end of 2018, due to the logistics involved in its implementation. The volume of the crop loans estimated at 43 lakh, procedural issues etc are also expected to cause delays.

Kumaraswamy had announced farm loan waiver in his budget on July 5, which he said would benefit about 28 lakh farmers’ families. Kumaraswamy and his father former Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda are banking on the success of the loan waiver scheme for the revival of JD(S) as a dominant force in the state and boost party fortunes ahead of 2019 Lok Sabha polls.

As for the measures so far to deliver on the promise, a helpline has been put up to address the concerns raised by all the parties concerned – bank staffers, village accountants and farmers. Meanwhile, buoyed by the improvement of software and easy access to Aadhaar and Food and Civil Supplies department data for the verification of ration cards, the state government is likely to extend the scheme to all districts from the second week of December.

Logistics involved in the project will, however, not be a cakewalk. Apart from verification of farmers and their credentials, appeals to taluk-level committees in case of mismatch in documents are expected to take time to resolve.

During a reality check, several problems associated with compiling data for the scheme were highlighted. According to one farmer Venkatreddy from Sedam, submitting the required data for CLWS was turning out to be a hassle due to heavy rush in some banks. “I have been visiting the branch for the past four days and have not been able to submit the details due to the rush,” he said. According to Arvind, a farmer from Nagadenahalli, there were spelling errors when comparing his Aadhaar document.

Kari Gowda, Deputy Commissioner, Bengaluru Rural district said that the district administration has compiled data of eligible farmers from both nationalised and cooperative banks. While there are 17,665 farmers who have availed loans from cooperative banks, around 3,200 farmers have taken loans from nationalised banks, he said. Similarly, there were a total of 18,043 crop loan accounts in various banks of Sedam taluk.

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