The leaders of co-op banks in Maharashtra are caught in a bind in the wake of Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis’ announcement that farmers’ loan would be waived off. This waving off of loans would mostly be done by co-op banks and Fadnavis has promised them (co-op banks) to reimburse their money sooner than later.
Indian Cooperative talked to several chairmen of co-op banks including Maharashtra State Cooperative Bank (MSC Bank) Chairman Dr M.L.Sukhdeve, Nashik District Central Cooperative Bank Chairman Narendra Darde, Osmanabad District Central Cooperative Bank Chairman Suresh Birajdar and Aman Gavande Chairman of Yavatmal District Central Cooperative Bank to know how they view the chief minister’s announcement.
Maharashtra State Cooperative Bank (MSC Bank) Chairman Dr M.L.Sukhdeve hailed the decision of Maharashtra govt and said “It is a historic move aimed at benefitting both- co-op banks and farmers. As farmers would have their loan waived off, co-op banks which had no hope of recovery would get the reimbursement from the govt.
The scheme would help those farmers who had taken the loan amounting to Rs 1 Lakh to 1.5 lakh from these banks between the period of 2009-2016, Sukhdev clarified.
“Farmers who were not in position to pay back the loan would breathe easy with the implementation of the new scheme; banks would also be able to recover their bad-debts. So, it is a win-win for both, banks as well as farmers”, Sukhdeve underlined.
There are 31 District Central Cooperative Banks (DCCBs) in Maharashtra with more than 3 thousand branches with a deposit of about Rs 74,000 crore.
Narendra Darde, Chairman of Nashik District Central Cooperative Bank is, however not so optimistic. Darde said “The Government’s double standards are exposed; at the time of demonetization the government adopted tough stand and disallowed co-op bans from participating in the exchanging of new currency notes leading to huge losses to banks and now it wants those very banks to come to its rescue”.
It is true that we would also like to waive off farmers’ loan but we don’t have the money, informed Darde.
Osmanabad District Central Cooperative Bank Chairman Suresh Birajdar said “Because of drought in our district and demonetization there is a huge financial crunch and we are not in a position to waive off loans but if the state government is ready to fund us and ensure smooth future loans from NABARD, we do not have any problem”, he said to this correspondent on the phone.
“If the state government would reimburse the waived off loan amount in a period of 2-3 months then we are ready to waive of loans of farmers. The scheme would benefit more than 1.5 lakh farmers with a loan of about Rs 950 crore of Yavatmal district of Maharashtra”, said Aman Gavande Chairman of Yavatmal District Central Cooperative Bank.
It bears recall that the Maharashtra government, which is implementing the ambitious farm loan waiver scheme Rs 34,022 crore has recently asked the banks including Cooperative Banks to use their own funds to settle farmers’ loans and promised them a reimbursement soon.
Readers would note that “In the month of June 2017, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis had announced that 89 lakh farmers would be eligible for the historic loan waiver. The state government also released a sum of Rs 4,000 crore in the first phase.
It is no secret that major share of farmers’ loan comes from cooperative banks which are playing an important role in improving the lives of farmers in rural areas.