The newly-elected Congress government in Madhya Pradesh was in for a major shock as a multi-crore farm loan scam was unveiled following a few cases of farmers suicides in the state. Apparently, the scam has been going on in 4,526 agricultural credit societies spread across Madhya Pradesh and with the connivance of co-operative society members and bank officials.
It has been revealed that these agricultural credit societies, which come under the Madhya Pradesh Co-operation Department, were committing a serious scam where money was withdrawn from the accounts of farmers without their knowledge, reportedly for the past 15 years. It has been accused that few co-operative members withdrew loans fraudulently. The Madhya Pradesh government has a policy of giving loans to farmers to buy fertilizers and seeds on zero per cent interest. Taking advantage of this facility, scores of office bearers and directors of co-operative societies took loans every year and disbursed it in the open market on higher interest rate.
However, this was until the new Congress government declared that it will waive off farm loans of some 45 lakh farmers. When the government declared the process for loan waiver scheme, the banks started publishing the list of farmers who had taken loans. Hundreds of farmers complained that their names were in the panchayat list even as they denied of having availed any loans.
The first case of the nearly Rs 1,200-crore scam was reported from Gwalior where many credit societies extended fake loans in the name of farmers who had died many years ago. There are even reports of farmers committing suicide after being named in the fake loans list. The Madhya Pradesh government has taken immediate action and registered FIR against the co-operative societies after the news of farmer suicides.
So far, the government has registered nearly 100 FIRs in various districts against these credit societies.
Chief Minister Kamal Nath said the scam has been revealed thanks to his government's farm loan waiver. Congress spokesperson Shobha Ojha said the previous BJP regime thrived only because of such corrupt practices. Loans were being taken against the land of poor farmers and used by small-time BJP leaders under a systematic racket which was promoted and protected from the top, she alleged.
Following a primary investigation, it was found that their names appeared against loans take up to the tune of Rs 2 lakh. The village co-operative societies' records were manipulated since the entries were made manually. With stricter rules in place following the new government, it turned out to be a major scam as similar reports came from other places also.