Farm activist alleges scam in loan disbursement to farmers

Mumbai: A prominent farm activist from Maharashtra has written a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi alleging a scam in the disbursement of money to farmers by nationalised as well as cooperative banks to show achievement of targets for priority agro-sector lending.

Kishor Tiwari, President of Vasantrao Naik Sheti Swavalamban Mission (VNSSM) that was constituted as a task force to redress the hardship of farmers, has alleged that the scam took place during the period of 2005-2015 and demanded a CBI probe into it.

Tiwari also runs an NGO Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti (VJS) which works for widows of farmers who commit suicides because of financial problems. He has been accorded the status of Minister of State.

As per the Reserve Bank of India guidelines, nationalised banks, domestic commercial banks and foreign banks have been given specific target of lending 18 per cent of Adjusted Net Bank Credit (ANBC) or credit equivalent amount of Off-Balance Sheet Exposure, whichever is higher.

In the letter, Tiwari has alleged that the banks have adopted corrupt and fraudulent practices to show that they have achieved the targets. "Fictitious Joint Liabilities Groups of farmers have been formed in collusion with some agro process corporate/ industries by forging documents. Amount of such disbursements has been pocketed directly by these so-called agro process corporates/industries," he said.

"The banks in a hurry of achieving agro sector targets, launched schemes of extending finance to farmers on the basis of co-lateral/mortgage of agricultural lands in the name of development thereof. But in reality, no such amount reached agro developments. In this way, a white collared fraud is committed by the banks," he added. Tiwari has claimed that the scam runs into several hundred crores.

"The banks have deprived the farmers from not only 14 districts of Vidarbha and Marathwada regions of Maharashtra but also other states from monetary assistance from the Union government. The farmers are committing suicides because they don't have money to repay their loans and continue sustainable farming," he said. Tiwari has demanded that a CBI probe be conducted into the alleged scam.

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