Conditions apply for crop loan waiver; filtration might make many farmers ineligible

Reportedly, the Congress government in Telangana is mulling out to reduce the beneficiaries of the crop loan waiver scheme by filtration. It appears that the government is considering new criteria to limit its scope to exclude some beneficiaries to reduce the fiscal burden. 

Plans are afoot to exclude government employees, private sector employees, and individuals filing income tax returns from the loan waiver. Chief Minister Revanth Reddy had promised that farmers would receive the Rs. 2 lakh loan waiver by August 15. To fund this initiative and establish the necessary procedures, the government is seeking ways to reduce the number of eligible recipients.

It is understood that the Congress government plans to use the provisions of the PM Kisan Samman Nidhi scheme as a basis for the loan waiver. Under the PM Kisan scheme, the central government provides Rs. 6,000 annually in three installments to farmers but excludes government employees, tax-paying private employees, and those in constitutional positions. Consequently, over half of the farmers in Telangana are not eligible for PM Kisan benefits. 

Currently, about 70 lakh farmers receive seasonal investment assistance through the Rythu Bandhu scheme introduced by the KCR government. In contrast, only 33 lakh farmers benefit from the PM Kisan scheme. Among the Rythu Bandhu beneficiaries, 37 lakh farmers are ineligible for PM Kisan assistance. If PM Kisan rules are applied to the loan waiver, many farmers may not receive the waiver.

The Congress party had pledged to waive loans up to Rs. 2 lakh for farmers before the elections. CM Revanth Reddy stated that approximately Rs. 35,000 crores are needed for the loan waiver and promised to deliver the full waiver by August 15. Despite these commitments, the government is struggling to secure the necessary funds and may implement cuts to the waiver program.

In the past, the BRS government waived loans up to Rs.1 lakh for every farmer without conditions twice after the formation of Telangana state. In 2014, the government waived loans of 35.31 lakh farmers totaling Rs.16,144 crore. Again in 2018, about 23 lakh farmers had Rs.13 thousand crores of loans waived. However, due to the Election Code and other issues, some did not receive the waiver. In total, the BRS government waived loans for 58 lakh farmers at a cost of Rs. 29,144 crores without any conditions.