Bundelkhand farmers allege use of recovery agents by banks

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New Delhi, Mar 1 (UNI) A group of farmers from Uttar Pradesh's drought-hit Bundelkhand region today alleged that despite Supreme Court orders, certain public sector banks were using recovery agents to extract loan amounts from them.

Interacting with the media here, two such farmers from Bundelkhand's Mahoba district claimed that so far over 1000 tractors have been auctioned by recovery agents hired by State Bank of India (SBI) without informing the farmers. ''After we put a lot of pressure on bank officials through the district magistrate, the SBI issued a letter informing one such farmer about the auction of his tractor....the letter however, did not mention the rate of interest on the loan amount still pending,'' claimed Prithvi Singh, who had been fighting for the cause of loan-burdened farmers of the district.

Bhairo, one of the farmers whose tractor was auctioned with his knowledge by the recovery agents for Rs 1.30 lakh, claimed that block level district officials were charging 'fee' to convert their a/c payee drought compensation cheques to bearer cheques. ''If you do not pay at least Rs 20 per cheque, they refuse to heed our requests,'' he said.

Prithvi Singh claimed that besides tractor loans, farmers in the parched Bundelkhand region were also repaying loans taken for pumping sets, crop, seeds and kisan credit cards.

''We have been facing a drought for the past three years. Last month a hailstrom had damaged whatever crop had survived. We were even unable to dig out the seeds,'' said Singh.

The farmers were brought to the National Capital by 'The Sunday Indian' weekly which claimed that the Rs 60,000 crore loan waiver to farmers announced by the Finane Minister yesterday would not actually help the farmers.

The magazine claimed that it was not yet known whether the loan waiver included tractor loans.

Sutanu Guru of the weekly who wrote about the region claimed that the SBI top brass has refused to offer a comment on the strong arm tactics allegedly being used by its branches in Bundelkhand.

There are seven districts in Bundelkhand region of UP.

UNI NAB AKJ HT1505

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