Putting a question mark on the much hyped 0% interest farm loan scheme of the state government, a series of RTI queries by TOI revealed hat between 2007-08 and 2012-13, interest subsidies meant for marginal farmers were embezzled by co-operative banks in the name of 1,77,956 `ghost’ farmers.This happened while close o 10,000 farmers committed suicides for various reasons n MP in the past eight years n the state according to NCRB data.
As per norms, a farmer rom MP gets crop loan at 0% interest rate. Actually co-operative banks charge 11% interest, a little over half of it (6 percentage points) is subsidized by state government and the rest (5 percentage points) by he National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (Nabard).
As each farmer’s interest is subsidized partly by wo departments Nabard and state government-request for interest subsidy or the same farmer is sent by banks to both Nabard and state government, each financial year. It clearly means, the number of farmers for whom interest subsidy is being demanded from Nabard and state government should be the same.However, replies sought by TOI under RTI, revealed shocking facts.
NABARD, in its reply said that in 2007-08, request or interest subvention of 20,91,113 farmers was sent by co-operative banks, while he state co-operatives department said that interest subsidy requests of 20,84,550 farmers were sent to the state government the same year -ideally these numbers should have been the same. However, in this case, requests of 6,563 additional farmers were sent to Nabard, which sources claim are `ghost’ farmers.
In a similar fashion, in 2008-09, interest subsidy requests for an additional 29,306 `fake’ farmers were sent to the state government. In 2009-10, requests for 42,902 `fake’ farmers was sent to the state government, in 2010-11, requests of of 42,434 `fake’ farmers was sent to Nabard. For 2011-12, the figrue stood at 37,699, and in 2012-13 at 19,052.
However, in 2013-14, no such discrepancy was found and requests of the same number of farmers for interest subvention was sent to both the agencies -Nabard and state government.Between 2007-08 and 2012-13, interest subsidy in the name of 1,77,956 such fake farmers was embezzled.
When contacted, principal secretary , co-operatives, Ajit Kesari admitted there were discrepancies and said, “We have identified it seven months ago and have started reconciliation process. It is for that reason that no such discrepancies are evident in 2013-14. We are also putting in place a transparent online system for farmer loan related issues where everything will be transparent.“
“As far as embezzlements in previous years are concerned, we are recovering the amounts from cooperative societies and reconciliation is being done, the entire process is being in vestigated and appropriate action will be taken. Even the additional money taken from Nabard will be recovered and adjusted,“ Kesari said. However, he failed to explain how two different reports, on the same issue were sent through the same organisation–Apex Bank the regulator of state co-operative banks-to two agencies and without being noticed by anyone. “It is just a mistake. Apex Bank as well as co-operative department is committed to bring transparency ,“ he said.
“And government auditors don’t audit the accounts of co-operative banks as it is done by private chartered accountants. Only those CAs know how two different figures were adjusted in the same balancesheet.“