Saturday, November 20, 2010

Land Development Bank (LDB)seizes 51 tractors from farmers and MSEDCL cut 1.5 lac Agri-power connection-TIMES OF INDIA

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LDB seizes 51 tractors from farmers

NAGPUR: The state's Land Development Bank (LDB) has finally begun cracking the whip to recover its decade-old dues from the region's farmers. The action has left farmers' union activists crying foul. However, bankers say this is part of the regular recovery process, and the bank had waited long enough before acting.

The bank had ceased operations in 1997 after the rural banking behemoth Nabard stopped financing it since the state government withdrew its guarantee to this bank. The LDB was left with huge dues, which have not been entirely recovered till date.

LDB is a two-tier agency, with a bank in each district and one apex bank. The operations in almost all the districts level banks have stopped, with some branches without enough funds to even pay employees salaries.

According to the Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti, a farmers' organisation, at least 51 tractors have been seized from farmers throughout the region by the LDB. A senior official in the Nagpur bank confirmed such an action being undertaken and said 4-5 tractors have been seized in Nagpur district too. "There are chances that around 50 or so tractors may have been seized in the entire region," said the official.

Before this, the bank had adopted a passive approach of 'Gandhigiri' to try and shame the borrowers into paying up the loan amounts. However, this did not work and finally stern action has been taken by the bank now.

On the other hand, Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti has termed this as an abrupt shift to coercive methods of recovery. Kishore Tiwari said that the bank could have waited till after the harvest, which is due by the month end. He also said that the recent untimely rains in some places have hit farmers badly.

Tiwari also said that a similar recovery drive by the electricity supply company MSEDCL had led to the snapping of around 1.5 lakh power connections, making the situation very bad for farmers. Only 13,000 connections have been restored so far. A farmer has already filed a petition against the drive before the Nagpur bench of Bombay High Court, he said.

Meanwhile, sources in the LDB said, there is a one-time settlement scheme open till March 2011, and those who have applied under it are being spared in the drive, otherwise the recovery drive will continue simultaneously.

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