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CAG report on farm loan waiver rocks Parliament, PM assures action if irregularities are found

CNN-IBN
Mar 06, 2013 at 03:25pm IST

New Delhi: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Wednesday assured that action will be taken if irregularities are found in the farm loan waiver scheme. The Prime Minister's statement in the Rajya Sabha came after loud protests by the Opposition in the House. The Lok Sabha, too, witnessed a demand from the Opposition to discuss the CAG report on farm loan waiver scheme.

The CAG report which was tabled in Parliament on Tuesday had criticised the scheme's implementation, citing lapses in 22 per cent of the cases. Opposition MPs in the Rajya Sabha were not satisfied by the Prime Minister's statement and continued to shout slogans, "Anti-farmer government will not work." Meanwhile, Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar said that there was no misappropriation in farm loan waiver scheme.

As soon as the Lok Sabha met on Wednesday, members of BJP and Left were on their feet raising the issue of the findings of a CAG report. BJP members led by deputy leader Gopinath Munde raised slogans against the government. They were joined by CPI(M) members.

"The government instead of being defensive should stand up with the opposition and discuss the matter and look into the matter," Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj said.

Following the uproar, the government said it was ready for a debate on the CAG report on farm loan waiver on Thursday. "I agree this is a matter of worry and shame as well. We are ready for discussion on the matter," Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath said.

The loan waiver scheme was brought by the UPA government in its first term (2004-09). The Comptroller and Auditor General has said there were serious lapses and malpractices in implementing the government's Rs 52,000 crore ($9.5 billion) farm loan waiver scheme in 2008.

In a report tabled in parliament on Tuesday on "Implementation of Agricultural Debt Waiver and Debt Relief Scheme, 2008", the CAG said there were irregularities in at least one in five cases.

The CAG report said over Rs 20 crore were doled to ineligible farmers or for purposes other than agriculture. The scheme was announced by the UPA government in 2008 and it had written off debt of more than 3.7 crore farmers.

There are lapses in over 22 per cent of the cases and over 13 per cent of the beneficiaries were eligible under the scheme but were not considered, according to the CAG report said. There were also no acknowledgement taken from over 34 per cent or a third of the farmers.

This acknowledgement is necessary so that farmers don't take fresh loan. In over 4800 cases, incorrect benefits were given to the farmers, the CAG report further revealed. Further, loans of over Rs 164 crore were waived off in violation of the guidelines, the report said.

(With additional information from PTI)

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