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Farmer loan waiver: New insurance and loan schemes revealed by ASG

Farmer loan waiver: New insurance and loan schemes revealed by ASG

For insurance, a farmer has to bear 2 percent, with the government bearing the rest; landless farmers can join hands to form a group, to which banks will give loans

A petition filed before the Supreme Court by the Citizens Resource & Action Initiative (CRANTI) on waiving loans of small farmers has so far not resulted in a loan waiver, but a couple of novel policies formulated by the government for farmers was revealed at the Supreme Court on May 2 (Tuesday).

During hearings, Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Atmaram Nadkarni disclosed that a new insurance policy for the agricultural crops was coming up in which the farmer will have to pay only two per cent of the premium, with the government paying the balance. This way the entire farm is insured. He said that the insurance company was being selected by the government through the tendering process.

The ASG also revealed that for small farmers, who did not own land and hence couldn’t avail of loans from banks, there was another proposal in the pipeline.

He said: “Now we have come out with a scheme so that a few small farmers can join hands and form a group, and banks will give loan to the group even if they don’t hold land of their own.

The case was being heard by a bench comprising Chief Justice (CJI) JS Khehar and Justices DY Chandrachud and Sanjay Kishan Kaul.

The CJI said after the day’s hearings: “It’s all a state subject and don’t know how much we can interfere. It’s all policy matter which is interlinked with various departments.

The court ordered that “the ASG has filed a compilation of documents which depicts the directions required. Same is taken on record. Petitioner has filed brief arguments on each point. Union of India to file brief response.”

The matter has been posted after the summer vacation.

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The petition was about waiving loans in case of natural calamities. Originally the petition was for the state of Gujarat only. However, the court felt that the issue involved was not only sensitive, but was of public interest at large. Hence the court had directed that the Union of India, the Reserve Bank of India, and all the state governments and Union Territories be added as party respondents to enable them to assist the court to arrive at an effective determination in the matter.

At the last hearing, the ASG had given a fair background of the thought process which had gone into the matter and had said that the central government was formulating a line of action to be adopted by the state governments to deal with the unfortunate issue.

On May 2, senior advocate Colin Gonsalves, appearing for the petitioner, said there was a structural flaw. The small and medium farmers fail to get loans from the nationalized banks and so he goes to private moneylenders. To that the ASG said: “I agree there is an issue as small farmers may not be holding his own land; it may be a leased land so banks do refuse to give the loan.”

Thereafter the ASG revealed the new plans of the government.

—By India Legal Bureau