No Bank of Maharashtra loans for drought-hit farmers

Lender cites high bad loans for drastic move in two States; Marathwada, Vidarbha to be impacted

Published - April 29, 2019 12:54 am IST - Mumbai

Heavy burden: The gross non-performing assets under agriculture now stand at 18.36%, says the bank.

Heavy burden: The gross non-performing assets under agriculture now stand at 18.36%, says the bank.

In an unusual move, a state-run lender, Bank of Maharashtra, has decided not to extend loans in eight zones in Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh that include Aurangabad, Latur, Akola, and Amravati, which are hit by drought.

The bank cited high bad loans from agricultural advances in the branches of these zones for the decision. The other zones are Solapur and Jalgaon in Maharashtra and Bhopal and Jabalpur in Madhya Pradesh.

“The present condition of agriculture is pathetic, wherein gross NPAs under agriculture stood at 18.36%,” the bank said in a circular to the branches. A copy of the circular has been reviewed by The Hindu . The bank had seen fresh slippages of ₹1,300 crore during 2018-19 from agriculture loans.

“It is observed that eight zones/its branches are having high % [percentage] of agri NPAs which are identified for curative action on NPA management,” the circular said.

Remedial action

The remedial action, as suggested by the ‘top management’, says, “Branches having NPAs > 15% shall not sanction new/enhancement proposals under agriculture.”

The bank has said genuine cases of existing borrowers with good track record or new clients should be tapped by these branches and recommended to the next authority for sanctioning.

Furthermore, zonal managers of these eight zones have been asked to identify ‘chronic/stagnant’ branches, and should report the same to the planning department in the head office for merger or closure. The bank has asked all the zones to carry out a detailed analysis of NPA accounts and ascertain various measures for default. Among the eight zones, Aurangabad has the highest percentage of NPAs — almost 25% of advances — followed by Bhopal (21.4%), Solapur (19.1%), and Akola (16.5%).

Advances to the agricultural sector come under priority sector lending.

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