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Crop loan: Negotiations fail, farmers to continue protests 

Bathinda: Farmers have decided to continue their agitation as talks between the former and co-operative bank officials have failed.Talking to The Tribune, BKU Ekta Ugrahan district president Shingara Singh Mann said the bank management didn’t agree to their demand for extending the crop loan limit of Rs 14,000 per acre.“We have decided to stage a dharna outside all banks in the district for an indefinite period,” he said. Earlier, the union activists protested outside all 39 branches of Bathinda Central Cooperative Bank in the district.Mann alleged that the banks were ready to facilitate a limit of Rs 3 lakh per acre on 11 per cent interest to the farmers, but were not willing to give them a crop loan of Rs 14,000 per acre having a much lesser interest rate.He said it had exposed the “real face” of the state government, which on the one hand, was extending farm debt waiver to the farmers and on the other, was not even ready to give Rs 14,000 per acre to them. The banks were resorting to such tactics in other districts too as they had received reports of similar protests from Bargari in Faridkot district, Mann stated.The farmers in Bathinda and Mansa districts have already alleged that they are being given Rs 10,000 per acre or less as crop loan by cooperative banks despite the government directions of providing them Rs 14,000 per acre.Bathinda Central Cooperative Bank district manager Geetika Mani said: “We don’t have adequate funds to provide the farmers Rs 14,000 per acre as crop loan. NABARD limit has shrunk over the years and this time, we apprehend that it may come down to Rs 175 crore, which is substantially low as compared to what we got four years ago. Besides, we need to cater to all our 85,000 members with these limited funds. We can’t give Rs 14,000 per acre.”She claimed that some “mischievous elements” were misleading the farmers as well as the union members on the issue. Senior manager of the bank Baljinder Singh Brar said a number of farmers had on Monday availed the loan at the rate of Rs 10,000 per acre from 13 branches in the district.

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