The United Progressive Alliance(UPA) government’s biggest election sop announced ahead of the 2009 Lok Sabha polls had a big impact on the electorate as it saw the coalition back in power for the second successive term.
However, the scheme that was originally meant to benefit 3.5 crore small and marginal farmers seems to have given birth to yet another swindle under the current regime, which is already tainted because of a series of scams in one department or the other.
In February 2008, the UPA-1 had announced Rs.52,280 crore farm loan waiver for farmers. The pre-poll trick delivered a second term for the UPA. However, callous ministers as well as corrupt and inefficient government machinery kept farmers entrapped in a vicious debt cycle.
Headlines Today accessed the final audit report submitted by the Comptroller and Auditor General(CAG) to the government, which has made some shocking revelations.
“CAG carried out a performance audit to assess whether the debt waiver and relief scheme was implemented in accordance with relevant guidelines and objectives. The audit carried out from April 2011 to March 2012 covered 25 states involving field audit of a total 90,576 farmers’ accounts in 715 branches of banks in 92 districts. 13.46 per cent accounts were those who were eligible but were disqualified by the lending institutions. Six per cent of the checked accounts were not extended their rightful benefits. 8.62 per cent were those who were not eligible but still got either complete waiver of debt relief.
More than 34 percent farmers were not issued debt waiver certificates thus making them ineligible for future loans. In a large number of cases there was proof of tampering, overwriting and alteration of records. Though the scheme was meant for farmers directly, in many cases the monies were disbursed to micro finance institutions. Also, lending institutions fraudulently claimed amounts related to interest charges. Finance ministry left it to the banks to do self-monitoring. There was no oversight by finance ministry while reimbursing claims,” a part of the report reads.
On paper a national level monitoring committee was announced. However, it failed to carry out its duty. In fact, there was no oversight or monitoring at the level of finance ministry, Reserve Bank of India(RBI) or National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development(NABARD).
When the CAG asked for the minutes and the agenda of the meetings, if any, that were held by this high-powered monitoring committee, it drew a blank. Source