The scheme may not ring a bell but the numbers should. The Government has been running an Agricultural Debt Waiver and Debt Relief scheme since 2008. The cumulative bill has just emerged, with total outgo so far being pegged at Rs 51,340 crore (approx $11 bn). Under the Scheme, `eligible amounts’ for small or marginal farmers (cultivating up to 2 hectares or 5 acres of land) were waived, among other kinds of waivers. Some 237 districts across the country were earmarked then. The debt waiver portion of the Scheme was closed in June 2008.
The Government says 29 million farmers have been provided debt waivers and relief under this scheme. No harm done, as long as it went to the right folks. While difficult farm conditions might call for frequent waivers, SPR Foundation would argue the Government should use such instances to insist and facilitate the opening of bank accounts. This would help smoothen the flow of credit and facilitate other forms of government transfers.