Staff Reporter

1.64 lakh farmers under 293 PACs will benefit

Farmers divided into two categories under DW&DRS

The scheme will be completed by June 30, 2008

Kakinada: The East Godavari District Cooperative Central Bank (DCCB) has prepared a tentative estimate that 1.64 lakh farmers, covered by 293 Primary Agricultural Cooperative Societies (PACS), will benefit from the Debt Waiver and Debt Relief Scheme (DW & DRS) announced by the Central Government recently.

It was assessed before the guidelines were issued by National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD), that loans amounting to Rs 383.10 crore could be exempted from repayment. The figure is due for revision according to the norms prescribed on May 22, 2008 by NABARD which is the implementing agency for cooperative credit institutions and regional rural banks, said K Nagamalleswara Rao, General Manager of Andhra Pradesh State Cooperative Bank and DCCB nodal officer for the DW & DRS.

Addressing a press conference here on Saturday, Mr. Nagamalleswara Rao said farmers were divided into two categories: ‘small and marginal farmers’ and ‘other farmers’ for the purpose of DW & DRS.

Those cultivating less than five acres are defined as ‘small and marginal farmers’ and more than that area, ‘other farmers’, who can apply for debt relief of 25 percent under the one time settlement scheme on condition that they will repay balance in three instalments by June 30, 2009.

Loans taken by small and marginal farmers for ‘agricultural production’ and ‘investment’ will be fully exempted subject to the condition that the sums should have been disbursed prior to March 31, 2007, overdue as on December 31, 2007 and unpaid till February 29, 2008. The same dates and nature of loans are applicable for ‘other farmers’.

Loans rescheduled in 2004 and 2006 through special packages announced by the Central Government whether they are overdue or not, will also be covered under the DW & DRS. Sums borrowed for agriculture and allied activities will also be exempted from repayment up to Rs 50,000. Loans rescheduled on account of natural calamities (as per RBI guidelines), up to March 31, 2007 are also eligible for exemption.

NABARD Assistant General Manager KV Satyanarayana said the lending institutions would give certificates of debt waiver of relief, that the farmers’ accounts were settled to their (PACS) satisfaction. The NABARD’s role is confined to implementing the DW & DRS. It is the national exchequer that will bear the financial burden entailed by the scheme.

DCCB Chairman S Kukkuteswara Rao said the NABARD guidelines were circulated to the PACS to enable the farmers to claim debt waiver and/or relief. The Finance Ministry envisaged that the implementation of DW & DRS would be completed by June 30, 2008. DCCB General Manager G Hari Gopal also spoke.