Of those Rs. 218, Rs. 30 were spent on auto fare for the 15 km journey from his village to Barabanki town to attend a massive government loan waiver function – an Uttar Pradesh government minister presided over it – and Rs. 200 his daily labour wages. “You know I want to go to the bank manager and shout at him and ask him why he gave my name for this farm loan waiver,” says an angry Shambhu Nath outside his mud and thatch hut in Barabanki’s Jata village.
The ground level implementation of the massive Rs. 36,000 crore farm loan waiver scheme announced by the Yogi Adityanath government in Uttar Pradesh is already underway – about 12 lakh farmers have received waiver certificates so far, many of them at glittering government functions. But many such farmers have got a rude shock after discovering their certificates were worth just a few rupees, in some cases as low as Rs. 2 to 3.
“The government is only interested in inflating numbers. This is a systematic fraud. I feel defaulters are being encouraged. In future the farmer will take a loan and never return it. People are being encouraged to take loans and then default on them knowing that some government will come and give a waiver,” says Naresh Agarwal, Rajya Sabha MP of the Samajwadi Party.
Ram Prasad from the state’s Shahjahanpur district has got a Rs. 1.5 loan waiver. An elderly farmer in the Etawah district was handed a loan waiver certificate totalling Rs. 3 a few days ago. The government has brushed aside criticism, but admitted things could be better organised. “I got to know of one incident and I told that particular DM to ensure that such small amounts should go directly to the accounts and that farmers are not made to collect certificates for the same,” says Avanish Awasthi, a senior UP government official.