Bhubaneswar: Cyclone-hit villagers of Puri district, struggling to get back on their feet, are now faced with another issue — paying their loans on time.
Banks, organized and unorganized money lending bodies and their agents are now forcing the villagers to pay their loans on time and have threatened them with action in cases of defaults. Many victims of Fani narrated their ordeal on their struggles to repay their instalments.
“Banking agents are now touring our villages and informing that no relief will be given to us for our losses. They have served us notice for default and threatened to send us to jail if we do not pay loan instalment on time,” said Bina Behera, an elderly woman from Jaipur village near Sakhigopal whose family is dependent on coconut trade and suffered huge losses during the cyclone.
Sankarshan Behera is another villager from the area who is into the coir business. He said, “I took a loan of `20 lakh earlier for my business from a leading government bank. Due to huge losses and destruction of my equipment, I was unable to pay the last two EMIs. Now we have been served notice and told that our accounts will be declared Non-Performing Assets and actions could be taken accordingly.”
Similar is the fate of other villagers who had either taken loan from the organised financial institutions or from moneylenders. Many in the Fani-affected areas of Puri claimed that the moneylenders are forcing them to pay back their entire loan amount as they too have suffered losses in the cyclone. Many of the moneylenders are now pressurising the poor villagers to pay back the loan amount as soon as possible. This has put the villagers under distress due to the massive loss incurred by them during the cyclone.
Not only this, the insurance companies too are adding to the woes of the villagers and industries as they seem to be reluctant to settle insurance claims at the time of crisis despite their advertisements of helping them at the time of need and emergency. Many people are yet to get their insurance claims settled even after one month of submission of claims.
“The private insurance companies are troubling the whole MSME sector. Despite making tall claims, the insurance companies have failed to keep their promises as many insurance claims have not been settled in the last one month. How we are going to make up for our losses then and why did we take the insurance if they can’t come to our rescue at this time of need?” an operator of a cold storage said requesting anonymity.