Bank of Maharashtra Denied Loans to Drought Affected Farmers - Seeker's Thoughts

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Bank of Maharashtra Denied Loans to Drought Affected Farmers

A state-run lender, Bank of Maharashtra, has decided not to extend loans to the drought affected farmers in at least eight zones in Maharashtra and MP and other drought hit areas.

Bank stated high bad loans from agriculture advances in the branches of these drought hit zones for the decisions.

Current condition of agriculture is worst, where in gross NPAs under agriculture stood at 18.36%, the bank said in circular to the branches.
The bank has had faced slippage of 1,300 rupees crore during 2018-2019 from agriculture loans.

It has been observed that eight zones/ its branches are having high percentage of Agri NPAs which are identified for curative action on NPA management.

Aurangabad has the highest percentage of NPAs- almost 25% of advance followed by Bhopal 21.4% Solapur 19.1% and Akola 16.5%.

What are Maharashtra Drought Crisis?

Maharashtra government declared drought in 151 talukas in the state in November 2019.  According to the government out of 151 talukas, 112 have been hit by severe drought while moderate droughts have hit 39 talukas in 26 districts of the state.

A government report says nearly 11,500 of Maharashtra’s 40,000 villages face water scarcity due to a combination of less than normal rainfall and consequent exploitation of groundwater.

The drought has been declared after ground verification and on the basis of indicators like rainfall deficit, reservoir storage, and groundwater index and soil moisture.
Maharashtra drought crisis since 2012

Maharashtra in India has been in a constant state of drought since the year 2012. The region received lower rainfall during the monsoon season from June to September 2012 which resulted in the 2013 drought in Maharashtra. It was one the worst drought to hit the region in 40 years.

The region has reported thousands of farmer suicide following the drought and the number is increasing every day. In just four months between January to April 2017, 852 farmer suicides have been reported. Marathwada region, which had experienced successive years of drought, reported 291 cases till April 2017, the figure in 2016 was 375. The worst-hit areas in Maharashtra are Solapur, Ahmednagar, Sangli Pune, starat beed and Nashik.

Dried Dams of Maharashtra

As per the figures, the Manjara dam in Beed was 1.80% water stock as compared to 88.04% in 2017, while the majalgaon dam in the same district has completely dried up. It had 60.48% stock in 2017.
Out of nine major dams in the Marathawada region, two have dried up there is an average 28.81% water stock in the other dams.
In the Amravati division of western Vidarbha, there is an average water stock of 57.37% in dams, while in the Nagpur division in east Vidarbha, it is 50.02%.
Climate Resilient Infrastructure 

State government failed to provide help the distressed farmers

The Maharashtra state government has so far not provided work to the farmers and farm laborers under the Mahatma Gandhi Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), which is supposed to ensure that each distressed household gets a at least 100 days  of work every years.

Even though the Maharashtra government announced a farm loan waiver in 2017 and launched a project called jalyukt shivar in 2016 to make Maharashtra drought-free by 2019, farmer suicides doubled in the last four years.

Impact of drought

It causes loss of crops, lack of fodder and water to feed their cattle, and constant drought reduces agricultural production. This leads to insufficient availability or supply of crops in the market. In economics when demand is more than supply, the prices increase. Food-grains become costly, and poor people suffer because of inadequate purchasing power.

Even today, especially in rural India, women don’t have the same status as men in society. This means that they are not given their fair share in access to nutritious food, good living conditions, education, health, etc. in a drought situation, when there is a dearth of food, women who are usually the last to eat at home, eat the least, and hence suffer from malnutrition. 

Drought also increases their work burden, since they have to work longer to earn the same wages, and often travel longer to fetch water, fodder, and fuel-wood.

A fall in agriculture production leads to a fall in employment opportunities for rural people who depend on agricultural labour for a living. It also causes people to migrate to other places in search of employment.
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According to the top management having NPAs 15% shall not sanction new enhancement proposals under agriculture.

They suggested genuine cases of existing borrowers with good track record or new client should be tapped by these branches and recommended to the next authority for sanctioning.

Zonal managers of these eight zones have been asked to identify chronic/stagnant branches, and should report the same to the planning department in the head office for merger or closure. The bank has asked all the zones carry out a detailed analysis of NPA accounts and ascertain various measures for default.

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