Sanjay Mishra. There is no salvation without co-operation – this is the basic mantra of co-operation in Madhya Pradesh. The objective is clear that through cooperatives those people who are dreaming of economic strength through farming, animal husbandry and cottage industries should be brought into the mainstream. With the aim of making such people self-reliant, the co-operative fabric that was woven in the state is now getting torn apart by the mite of corruption that has grown in the committees and the indifference of the administrative machinery. Co-operatives have started becoming poor and their dependence on the government has increased.
To revive the cooperative as a movement, it is necessary that the government should clean the mite of corruption involved in it and make such a transparent system which can strengthen the credibility of the institutions and societies and make them stand on their feet. However, the Shivraj Singh Chouhan government has taken a good initiative in this direction by fixing the maximum withdrawal limit of Rs 2 lakh from the cooperative bank Apex Bank. Surely this will prevent arbitrariness in the co-operative bank and will help in saving them from going to the brink of poverty.
The cooperative movement in Madhya Pradesh extends from village to village. Lakhs of farmers are associated with more than four and a quarter thousand primary agricultural cooperative societies. Every year more than ten thousand crore rupees loan is made available to the farmers through these societies. Manure and seeds are also arranged through them. Whether it is the purchase of wheat, paddy, gram, lentils, mustard, moong etc. on support price or to provide ration to more than one crore families at a subsidized rate per month, the government runs the system through cooperative societies. Despite this, the problems of cooperatives are not less. Due to political interference and the weaknesses of the administrative management, new scams are being exposed every now and then.
Recently, the case of taking out fake loans in the name of farmers in cooperative societies attached to Jhabua District Co-operative Central Bank has come to light. Here the branch manager along with the employees showed the fraudulent loan withdrawal in the name of the farmers and took the benefit of loan waiver on it. Disturbances of crores of rupees have also come to the fore in the branches of Gwalior and Datia District Co-operative Central Bank. A scam of more than Rs 80 crore has come to light in the Kolaras branch of Shivpuri District Co-operative Central Bank. Its 14 officers and employees have been suspended. In Balaghat too, there has been a scam in the name of Krishak Patrika. The affiliated branches of the bank made him a member of the magazine without informing the farmers and deducted the membership fee directly from his account. Many cases including tractor scam in Sidhi and loan disbursement in Hoshangabad have come to light. Due to this the functioning of cooperatives is in question.
Due to corruption, the government has had to lock the oilseed union and land development bank. In view of the production of soybean in the state, the government had formed an oilseed union. Through this, plants were set up at many places and a large workforce was also prepared for the work, but due to mismanagement, it gradually weakened. This increased the financial burden on the Sangh and the government had to decide to close it. Now its assets are being sold.
Similarly Bhumi Vikas Bank (State Co-operative Agriculture and Rural Development Bank) was established to provide long term agricultural credit to the farmers. Under this 38 district banks were created. They used to give loans to the farmers for a period of seven years. The loan could not be repaid due to political interference. The debt burden on the bank increased to more than one thousand crore rupees. The government had given a loan to the bank on its own guarantee from the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD). In view of the financial condition of the bank, the government had to put a hold on disbursement of its loans.
Shivraj government is providing loans without interest to the farmers. Its intention is that by helping smallholder farmers through cooperative societies, their cost can be reduced and they can be saved from the clutches of moneylenders. Despite this, the weaknesses of the committees hinder the objective of the government. Therefore, there is a need to reform the system of co-operative banks. There is no proper mechanism of control. This is the reason why branch errors are not detected in time. By the time cases come to light, it is too late. Due to continuous irregularities, the transfer of more than two lakh rupees from Apex Bank has been banned without the permission of the Chief Executive Officer of the Headquarters.
[स्थानीय संपादक, नवदुनिया, भोपाल]