Chandigarh, Feb 15 (PTI) Farmers have halted repayment of their crop loans in view of the Punjab government’s much publicised debt waiver scheme, even as the NPA in agriculture advances swelled by over Rs 800 crore to a “worrisome” figure of Rs 6,611 crore in six months, as per a report of the State Level Bankers’ Committee (SLBC) “The government of Punjab issued notification after an announcement was made in the Vidhan Sabha (last year) regarding debt waiver for small and marginal farmers up to Rs 2 lakh.

“As a result, farmers in the state of Punjab have stopped making repayment of their crop loans and the recovery scenario is being adversely affected. Even farmers other than small and marginal farmers are not making repayments in the hope of debt waiver,” as per the SLBC report which was released today at its 143rd meeting here.

The non-performing assets (NPA) level in agriculture advances as on June 30, 2017 was Rs 5,731 crore, which went up to Rs 6,611 crore as on December 31,2017, rising by Rs 880 crore in a period of six months.

The Punjab government had announced the debt waiver scheme in June 2017.

Crop loan waiver for up to Rs 2 lakh for small and marginal farmers (up to 5 acres) and a flat Rs 2 lakh relief for all other marginal farmers would be given, thus benefiting over 10 lakh farmers.

In the first phase, the state government has waived cooperative loans of 47,000 small and marginal growers belonging to five districts worth Rs 167.39 crore out of the approved 1.60 lakh cases with loans worth Rs 748 crore.

The government has already identified 5.63 lakh farmers, who took loan of nearly Rs 2,700 crore from the cooperative institutions as on March 31, 2017.

The agricultural advances in Punjab witnessed an increase of Rs 4,873 crore — from Rs 68,199 crore in December 2016 to Rs 73,072 crore in December 2017, showing a growth of 7.14 per cent, as per the SLBC report.

Meanwhile, the Punjab government today asked commercial banks to provide Aadhaar seeded data of farmers in order to waive debt of growers who borrowed from nationalised banks.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.