NEW DELHI: The government has so far recovered Rs 627 crore from ineligible entities who took benefit from the agricultural debt waiver scheme of 2008-09, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said on Friday.
Jaitley informed Lok Sabha that 5,411 officials from various banks have been brought to book for irregularities in implementing the scheme and 22 FIRs registered.
The Minister said “Rs 627 crore has been recovered” from ineligible beneficiaries so far.
The scheme benefited 3.73 crore farmers to the extent of Rs 52,259.86 crore, Jaitley said.
“All direct agricultural loans disbursed to farmers between March 31, 1997 and March 31, 2007, overdue as on December 31, 2007, which remained unpaid until February 29, 2008 were covered under the scheme,” he said.
A performance audit of the scheme done by the Comptroller & Auditor General (CAG) showed various errors of inclusion and exclusion at the beneficiary level. The audit was done from April 1, 2011 to March 2012.
Following the CAG findings, the government in January 2013 had directed all institutions to take immediate corrective and re-verify all the claims under the scheme.
With regard to alleged irregularities, 80,299 cases were looked into and in about 6,823 cases benefits of the scheme went to ineligible beneficiaries, Jaitley said.
Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and National Bank for Agriculture & Rural Development (NABARD) were the nodal agencies for the scheme.
They had issued “directions to the lending institutions on January 1, 2013 and January 14, 2013, respectively to examine the cases of any irregularities and take corrective steps, including recovery of such amounts from ineligible beneficiaries, recovery of any excess payment and fixing responsibility of the bank staff in appropriate cases,” he said. The guidelines for the Agricultural Debt Waiver and Debt Relief Scheme (ADWDRS) were issued in May 2008.
Full debt waiver of the eligible amount was given to small and marginal farmers and one-time settlement rebate of 25 per cent was extended to other farmers against payment of balance 75 per cent in not more than three installments.
In response to a query on whether more debt-ridden farmers would be given loan waivers, Jaitley said though the scheme is no longer there, the government is “ready to combat all problems”.
“Monsoon season is still going on… We will closely look at climate issues in July and August,” he added.-PTI