Manmeet Singh Gill
Tribune News Service
Amritsar, July 7
Members of the Nagli-Naushera Agricultural Cooperative Society in Verka block are a disturbed lot as the Central Jail branch of Amritsar Central Cooperative Bank has stopped giving credit to them after the state government announced a loan waiver of up to Rs 2 lakh for the agrarian sector.
The members said in many cases wherein they had purchased fertilisers from the cooperative society, the bank branch did not honour their cheques. The society caters to the credit needs of farmers from seven villages in the area. The cooperative bank has fixed loan criteria of Rs 25,000 per acre to help farmers bear input costs.
With a total of 300 members, the Nagli-Naushera society had around 100 active members who were dependent on the cooperative bank for credit needs. Earlier, the cooperative societies at Meerakot and Khairabad in the area had been closed. The farmers feared that their society too would be closed.
Harbhajan Singh, a farmer from Bhaini Gilla village, said, “The bank branch has stopped giving advance without giving any reason. I had received the benefit of the loan waiver even though I was not a defaulter but now with the bank stopping the credit facility we have to take loan from commission agents.” He added that he had been associated with the society for the last 40 years.
Another farmer Charanjit Singh of Muradpura village said, “We have visited the bank many times and asked them for the reason but we are still in the dark. I have been associated with the bank since 1998 and before that my father was the member.” He said the cooperative bank had arbitrarily stopped their credit facility.
Kuljeet Singh, an advocate from Malawali village, said, “Recently, I purchased fertiliser from the society and gave a cheque issued by the cooperative bank. The bank did not honour the same and I had to give cash.” Singh added that as he had not taken loan from the cooperative bank in the past, he had received no benefit of the loan waiver. He said the purpose of the cooperative bank was to provide farmers with Rs 25,000 per acre for sowing the crop and to help them not fall in debt trap of arhtiyas.
Bank manager Kuljit Singh said, “We cannot advance loan to those farmers from whom we have to recover the money.” However, when he was asked about the farmers who had not defaulted, he invited the correspondent to come to his office. “We would sit and talk,” he said before disconnecting the phone.
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