Jajpur: Cooperative banks have been caught on the wrong foot after farmers of this district alleged large-scale irregularities in sanctioning crop loans in the name of fake farmers. The matter came to the fore after farmers alleging irregularities demanded a high-level inquiry to unravel the wrongdoings.
Reports said that farmers here have borrowed from the cooperative societies as well as central cooperative banks to raise their Rabi crops but the loan amounts, instead of being handed over to them, are being used to repay previous loans. The loans sanctioned for Rabi crops are adjusted against the previous Kharif loans. This is being done in violation of the directives issued by the Registrar of Cooperative Societies in June, this year.
Notably, the Registrar of Cooperative Societies (RCS) issued a direction to all the Deputy Registrars of Cooperative Societies (DRCS), Assistant Registrars of Cooperative Societies (ARCS), and the heads of all central cooperative banks in June, this year. In the letter, he had said that the secretaries or managing directors of Primary Agriculture Cooperative Societies (PACS) or Large Area Multipurpose Societies (LAMPS) shall not keep the loan passbooks or the Kishan Credit Card (KCC) chequebooks of farmers with them or use them for any means under any circumstances. It is alleged that the loan books of farmers who had taken loans for 2022-23 Kharif season are only being renewed.
As many as 1,01,739 farmers had taken Rs 54,115.59 lakh as a loan during the last Kharif season. The amount farmers had taken in previous loans is now being paid as Rabi loan. According to available reports, so far only 30,244 farmers have been sanctioned with Rs 14,959.37 lakh Rabi loan. The loan is only being recovered in pen and paper as the amount each farmer had taken in the previous loan is being sanctioned as loan for Rabi crops. Fearing that the cooperative banks might charge them more interest, the farmers keep their mouth shut and agree to this wrongdoing.
In reality, not a single penny is being paid to the farmers as loan for Rabi crops. While the pockets of farmers remain empty, the burden of additional Rabi loan and the accruing interest has shaken the farmers to the hilt. Moreover, if the satellite report is taken into consideration, 10,158 acres of farmlands have gone uncultivated in the district during this period. The shrinking of farmlands is also indicative of a decline in the number of farmers. This ultimately gives rise to doubts on large scale irregularities in sanctioning of loans in the name of fake farmers. Farmers claimed that a clear picture could emerge if a high-level inquiry is undertaken to unravel the corruption.
Reports said over 122 PACS affiliated 10 cooperative banks operate in Jajpur district. The farmers are sanctioned loans for cultivation in Kharif and Rabi seasons through cooperative banks. Farmers alleged that it is nothing but a bait or allurement for them. The banks are not directly recovering the Kharif loan but collecting it on the pretext of sanctioning Rabi loan. Farmers alleged that they had suffered crop loss during the last Kharif season due to floods and cyclonic storms. They were planning to make good of the loss and waiting for the disbursal of Rabi loan.
However, the manipulative practice by the cooperative banks has hit them hard. A farmer Gopinath Biswal alleged that he is now repaying his due for Kharif loan by taking the Rabi loan. He is forced to do this as he will have to pay 13 per cent more interest for the Kharif loan. He is not receiving a pie towards the Rabi loan. Left with no option, he has to borrow from the local money lenders.