Chiddi Sharma, a farmer in Ading village of Mathura, has received 1 paisa or ₹00.01 as part of the U.P. government’s flagship crop loan waiver scheme, which promises a relief of up to ₹1 lakh to the 86 lakh farmers in the State.
Mr. Sharma, one of the many farmers who have been given waivers of minuscule amounts, says his is the “cruellest joke” as no one in the State has been paid 1 paise as relief for losses running into lakhs.
‘Blessing for farmers’
Announced in April this year, a month after Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath came to power in U.P., the ₹36,000-crore ‘Rin Mochan Yojana’ had come as a blessing for debt-ridden farmers of the State. Even as the Adityanath government competed six months, Mr. Sharma got a message on his phone from Punjab National Bank on Sunday that he had got a loan waiver of 1 paisa as part of the flagship scheme.
When The Hindu met the 52-year-old farmer in his humble one-room house,Mr. Sharma was visibly angry.
“I had distributed sweets in April when Yogi ji announced the loan waiver. I had taken loan of ₹1.55 lakh from the Punjab National Bank six years ago, but could not repay it that due to repeated losses in farming. Today I do not know whether to laugh or cry. Many leaders have played with the emotions of the farmers, but this one by Yogi ji is the cruellest of them all,” said Mr. Sharma who owns five bighas of land and comes under the category of “marginal farmer”.
“Since the day Yogi ji announced the ₹1-lakh loan waiver scheme, I had only been thinking about it. I don't know what to say now. The six-month wait has resulted in 1 paisa in my account,” Mr. Sharma said, waving the loan waiver certificate embossed with the photos of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chief Minister Adityanath, with the slogan “ har kadam kisanon ke saath (with farmers in their every step)” running under them.
“I don't want to speak much but what is the point of advertising ₹36000 crore. How come other farmers in Mathura who took almost the same amount as me and who were in a similar situation, got the full waiver of ₹1 lakh,” asked Mr. Sharma, flanked by his son Banwarilal Sharma and his two sons.
Since the news of 1-paisa loan waiver broke, Mr. Sharma has been receiving hordes of journalists and photographers at his home.
The media attention is also proving to be a pocket pinch for the family, said Banwarilal Sharma who had spent over ₹100 on tea and snacks for the reporters visiting them.
While there are many beneficiaries of the loan waiver scheme who have got a relief as low as 40 paisa, no one else in the State has a certificate that matches the 1-paisa laon waiver to Mr. Sharma.
His case has already given ammunition to the Opposition leaders in the State. Former Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav tweeted on Monday: “ Bhool chukey jo apna sankalp patra, shweta patra unka bahana hai (The white paper is an excuse for those who have forgotten their poll promises)”.
The district manager of PNB bank, P.K. Singh, said that a case like that of Chiddi Sharma may have happened because of two accounts in the same bank. “Under the scheme those accounts of farmers ended up getting selected in which the money was either repaid or there was a meagre loan amount left,” said Mr. Singh. But Mr. Sharma said he never had two accounts in PNB, so there was no chance of any confusion.
The district officials of Mathura have ordered a probe into Mr. Sharma’s case. ADM Mathura Sadanand Gupta told Mr. Sharma that it was a mistake on part of PNB and directed the bank officials to issue a new certificate.
The District Magistrate of Mathura, Arvind Malappa, told The Hindu , “I looked at the case of of Chiddi Sharma and it seems that it happened due to some technical error which we are trying to sort out.”