At a time when the positivity rate of coronavirus has gone up significantly in vilages, the bank branches in rural areas are witnessing heavy crowd as farmers make a beeline for availing themselves of the crop loans, increasing the possibility of the spread of the virus.
Anantapur MP Talari Rangaiah has requested Agriculture Minister K. Kanna Babu, Finance Minister Buggana Rajendranath Reddy and district in-charge Minister Botcha Satyanarayana to direct the State Level Bankers’ Committee (SLBC) to stop the renewal of crop loans. The MP told The Hindu that he had got a positive response from the Ministers in this regard.
“People coming from far off places are waiting in long queues at the bank branches much ahead of the opening time. However, they are not able to getting their work done owing to the restricted working hours of the banks. The number of staff available are also not adequate to process the requests by many farmers at a time,” Mr. Rangaiah said.
With the kharif season approaching, farmers are repaying their old loans somehow or other so that they can availa of fresh loans. Others are approaching the banks for new loans as the distribution of groundnut seed has already started, pointed out Praja Science Vedika president M. Suresh Babu.
‘No social distancing’
Moreover, due to restrictions on public movement and difficulty in timely sale and receipt of payment for their produce, farmers are facing difficulties in repayment. Customers, in their eagerness to meet the deadline, are not maintaining the social distance and some are not even wearing masks, Mr. Suresh Babu said.
“Sanitisers are not available in many rural bank branches and it is a risky for the bank employees. Ten bank employees have died of teh virus during the second wave of pandemic in Anantapur district alone,” he said.
The government was not providing the 2% per annum interest subvention to the banks and 1% prompt repayment incentive which amounts to 3% additional benefit on timely repayment to farmers, thus providing loans up to ₹3 lakh at 4% interest per annum on timely repayment, he alleged.