india

Banks warned against harassing farmers

DC convenes meeting of farmers and bank representatives at his office

Deputy Commissioner of Mysuru Bagadi Gautham has warned banks against harassing farmers by forcing them to mortgage their lands despite the waiver of such a requirement for crop loans less than ₹2 lakh.

A meeting of farmers and bank representatives was convened by Deputy Commissioner at his office in Mysuru on Wednesday following an assurance given to the farmers during an agitation they held about three weeks ago.

During the agitation, the Karnataka Sugarcane Farmers Association led by its President Kurubur Shanthakumar had protested against the banks for not only forcing farmers to mortgage their lands for crop loans as well as education loans despite a waiver, but also adjusting their wages earned under Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MNREGA) against their pending loan dues.

At the meeting in the Deputy Commissioner’s office on Wednesday, Mr. Shanthakumar said the farmers were forced to stand outside the sub-registrar’s office before sanctioning of loans while touts collect a fee from them and complete the formalities for mortgaging their land.

Mr. Shanthakumar alleged that the banks were harassing the farmers by even denying them the option of One Time Settlement (OTS) of outstanding loan dues.

While the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) policy asks banks to provide collateral-free crop loans upto ₹1.6 lakh in the agriculture sector, Karnataka Grameena Bank’s Manager Ninge Gowda said there was a provision in their bank to provide mortgage-free agriculture loan upto ₹2 lakh.

With regard to the option of OTS, Mr. Gowda said he will discuss the issue with the bank’s managing committee and finalise the guidelines.

The Deputy Commissioner warned the banks against adjusting the wages earned by farmers to their outstanding loan amount as the government had already cautioned the banks against such a practice.

Mr. Shanthakumar said Mr. Bagadi Gautham claimed that he too had experienced harassment at the hands of banks for an educational loan during his student days. The farmers’ leader claimed that several children of farmers were being denied an opportunity for higher studies due to the harassment by banks even when University Grants Commission (UGC) had made it amply clear that education loans upto ₹4 lakh do not require collateral.

Representatives of several banks including Lead Bank Manager Gopinath Shastri, farmers’ leaders P. Somashekar, Hallikerehundi Bhagyaraj and Hethalli Devaraj also participated in the meeting.

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