Wardha: CNN-IBN's Budget Yatra has reached the country's cotton belt of Maharashtra. The Vidharbha region is infamous for farmer suicides and is still struggling with cotton production down by 40 per cent. In the same village that was visited by the Prime Minister who announced the farm waiver, six years later the situation is the same farmers are back in debt and struggling. Most say they are against free dole but want the right price for their produce.
Waifed village had a high profile guest in 2006, one they hoped would turn around their fortunes. A loan waiver scheme was announced following Dr Manmohan Singh's visit but little has changed. At Zila Panchayat member Manoj Chandurkar's 100-year-old ancestral home, CNN-IBN met some farmers who were offered the loan waiver scheme, but claim they didn't benefit.
According to the scheme, farmers with holdings upto 5 acres got a full waiver. Those with larger holding could claim a 20 per cent write-off, but only after they paid back the remaining loan amount. Chandurkar, who has 73 acres of farmland, had a Rs 2 lakh loan, but couldn't raise the Rs 20,000 needed to write the loan off.
Vishwanath Jhade had his entire Rs 20,000 loan waived off but is back in debt. He had to borrow money again to buy seeds and fertilisers for his crop. His neighbour Hanumant Rao Lambe did not get a waiver as his loan hadn't been written off by the bank when the scheme was announced.
The rural bank in the village got Rs 1 crore as part of the waiver scheme. It now has Rs 3.5 crore worth of non performing assets on its books.
With crop production falling by 40 per cent, most farmers will be unable to pay back their loans this year too. Some of them hope for more financial aid. But with the CAG now probing irregularities in the farm loan waiver scheme, a new scheme may take time to get off the ground, leaving them in debt for another year.