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Farm loan defaulters feel heat as easy loans become unavailable

Statesman News Service | Chandigarh |

Having defaulted on re-payment of bank loans in hope of total farm loan waiver by Punjab government, farmers in the state are apparently facing a cash crunch for meeting their big requirements like higher education and social functions, including marriage.

As many farmers have reportedly defaulted in paying the instalments against their bank loans, commercial banks — which earlier used to provide big loans to farmers — have stopped giving loans to such farmers.

The president, Punjab Arhtiya Association, Ravinder Singh Cheema, said farmers have used all the money they had and banks are not giving fresh  loans to defaulting farmers either for crops, education loans or personal loans for social functions like marriage, farmers are in trouble.

"The pressure is on aathiyas (grain commission agents) to fulfill their loan requirements. But we are only giving small loans according to their income from for crops. So farmers are not able to meet their social needs like marriages or higher education in India or abroad which require big amount of money," he said.

"This is a big reason for suicides by farmers in the recent past as farmers are feeling humiliated because there are not able to meet the social obligations due to lack of fresh loans," Cheema adding that the situation is worse in the cotton belt as the farmers were already reeling under the effect of crop failure last year and now they are not getting fresh loans.

The president, Federation of Aartiyas Association of Punjab, Vijay Kalra said commission agents can't give Rs 10 to Rs 15 lakh loans which farmers require for ending their kids abroad or functions like marriage.

"We give loans only as per the income from crops. But banks were giving farmers loans we per the value of land which is in lakhs. So obviously it's difficult for farmers to manage their expensive personal works without bank loans," he said.

The chairman, Hoshiarpur Central Cooperative Bank, Satwinder Pal Singh Ramdaspur said unlike private banks which used to give Rs Four lakh to Rs Five lakh loans to farmers by making them pledge their farm land,  cooperative banks are not in a position to give loans. "There is no money with cooperative banks as recovery of farm loans is down. "The rate of farm land is down and farmers have anyway pledged most of their land with banks. So they have nowhere to go when it comes to taking big loans," he said.

A farmer leader, Amrik Singh, said lack of required finance for meeting the personal requirements of farmers was a big reason for spurt in suicides by farmers in the recent past.