ONE after another skeleton keeps tumbling out of the scam tainted UPA cupboard. Coalgate, 2G, Chopper, CWG, Telecom, Adarsh Housing scam, IPL scam and now the farm loan waiver scam.
The CAG has found several shortcomings in the implementation of the first UPA government’s Rs. 52,500-crore farm loan waiver scheme – while thousands of ineligible farmers got the benefit, many eligible applicants were left out, the CAG report, tabled in Parliament stated.
The scheme had two components – a total loan waiver for farmers who own up to two hectares of land and one-time relief of 25% for those who own more, provided they had deposited the remaining 75% of the loan amount. The report tabled in Parliament stated that under the pre-poll scheme announced in 2008 keeping an eye on the 2009 general elections for tackling farmers’ indebtedness, some beneficiaries had taken loans for even buying vehicles or building houses, while 1,257 eligible farmers were turned down. But main opposition party BJP was quick to lap up the opportunity.
The BJP once again has pounced on the government. “This is a fraud. The exchequer has been defrauded and this amounts to a scam,” said BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar.
The CAG said in about 34% of the cases it had audited, there was no receipt from the beneficiaries or any proof of the issue of loan waiver or relief certificates. The BJP on Tuesday alleged that nearly 34 lakh farmers had been denied their right under the loan waiver scheme of the UPA government and demanded a CBI inquiry to unearth the real extent of the “massive scam”.
BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar said this revelation further proved that farmers had got a raw deal from the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government, and demanded a waiver of all outstanding dues as on March 31, 2013.
“Nearly 34 lakh eligible farmers stand denied their right for debt waiver and more than 24 lakh ineligible people had also got benefits under the scheme,” he said.
He noted that the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) has checked only about 90,000 accounts out of 3.5 crore accounts of farmers and found even with this small sampling that 13 percent eligible farmers were not considered by lending institutions.
“Further 8.5 per cent ineligible beneficiaries got undue windfall profit. There may be many who may not even be farmers… A CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation) probe should be ordered to get the real picture,” he said “What is shocking is that some of the micro-finance institutions, through not eligible, got benefited. The CAG has come across the cases of tampering, overwriting, alterations which are all tantamount to a fraud and therefore a scam. The public money has gone to undeserving beneficiaries,” he said.
He demanded that government should accept MS Swaminathan committee formula of “cost of production plus 50 per cent”, as the viability of farm economy has disappeared because continuous rise in inputs cost like fertilisers, pesticides, seeds, water, electricity and diesel etc.
“The gap between the MSP (minimum support price) and the cost of production as calculated by the CACP (Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices) is getting narrowed. The terms of trade, in the UPA regime, has gone against farmers,” he 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 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.