PATNA: Bihar is likely to be declared disaster-hit as the state disaster management department (DMD) has already sent a proposal to the state government in this regard.
The DMD has taken this decision in the light of the RBI directive, which says that loans given to farmers by various banks can be rescheduled only when a state is declared disaster-hit. Incidentally, unseasonal rain and hailstorm in March and April have caused widespread damage to standing crops in Bihar and the farmers now rue their lot.
“The state government had already asked various bank branches in the state to reschedule the loans to the farmers in cyclone-hit districts and later also in the districts which were hit by unseasonal rain and hailstorm. But, despite the state government directive, the banks did not show any leniency and are pressurizing the farmers to repay their loans. The farmers, who are a worried lot, failed to do so and appealed to the state government for relief,” said state disaster management principal secretary Vyasji here on Monday.
“Keeping the farmers’ plight in view, the state agriculture department and DMD again appealed to the banks to reschedule the farmers’ loans. Various bank authorities, however, expressed their inability to initiate any move in this direction on the pretext of RBI guidelines. No bank will reschedule the loans unless there is a notification from the state government declaring Bihar disaster-hit,” he added.
According to the RBI sources, the restructured period for repayment of any loan may be 3 to 5 years in case of short-term crop loans. However, if the damage arising out of the calamity is severe, banks may, at their discretion, extend the period of repayment ranging up to 7 years and in extreme cases of hardship, up to 10 years in consultation with the State Level Bankers Committee (SLBC).
It may be mentioned that the state was hit by unseasonal rain and hailstorm in March-April and even as its farmers counted their losses, a cyclonic storm hit the northeastern districts like Purnia, Kishanganj, Araria, Forbesganj, Darbhanga, Madhepura and Saharsa on April 21, killing around 60 persons and incurring crop loss in over 18 lakh hectares.
Incidentally, the state IMD has also asked the state government and the DMD authorities to prepare a contingency plan keeping the delayed monsoon and deficient rain predicted this year.