Following is the letter jointly sent by Six national women’s organisations to the Minister of Rural Development, Shri Narendra Singh Tomar protesting against the decision of collecting the outstanding loans from the SHG women and demanding immediate withdrawal of the decision.
NATIONAL WOMEN’S ORGANISATIONS’ JOINT LETTER
Date: September 12, 2020
Shri Narendra Singh Tomar,
Minister of Rural Development, Agriculture and Farmer’s Welfare & Panchayati Raj,
Government of India.
Subject: Collections of loans (NPAs) from SHGs
This is with reference to the decision taken by the Ministry of Rural Development regarding collections of ‘NPAs’ of the Self Help Groups. The issue of NPAs in bank loans to SHGs which comes under the Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana-National Rural Livelihoods Mission, under which the government provides support to SHGs, including bank linkages was reviewed without taking into account the unprecedented economic devastation faced by the SHG women in the country.
The NRLM had planned to cover 7 crore rural poor households in the country through SHGs and support them for livelihoods collectives enabling them to increase household incomes. It is ironical that now the State Rural Livelihood Missions (SRLMs) have been told to “work out the amount to be deposited with banks before Sept 20 to avoid the account becoming irregular/NPA”. Your Ministry has asked SRLMs to “monitor the status of NPA district-wise” and take “corrective measures” to “recover overdue/outstanding dues”.
According to newspaper reports, the outstanding bank loans, to about 54.57 lakh SHGs across the country, amounted to about Rs 91,130 crore at the end of March, of which Rs 2,168 crore or only 2.37% were NPAs.
The government did not take any steps to provide livelihood opportunities during the pandemic and lockdown. SHG women are barely surviving and managing to keep the home fires burning.
At a time when the government is giving various concessions to the corporate sector, which include writing off some amounts of their huge NPAs, the Rural Ministry has chosen to target the poor, marginalised sections of SHG women for recovery. The government should have in fact waived the loans taken before the pandemic and provided new collateral and interest free loans to the SHG women.
This decision of your ministry will lead to tremendous harassment of the SHG women not only by the banks but also the MFIs. Hence, we request that this decision be immediately withdrawn and a moratorium be applied on the payment of loans and interest till the situation normalises.
Kavita Krishnan – ALL INDIA PROGRESSIVE WOMEN’S ASSOCIATION
Mariam Dhawale – ALL INDIA DEMOCRATIC WOMEN’S ASSOCIATION
Annie Raja – NATIONAL FERDERATION OF INDIAN WOMEN
Poonam Kaushik – PRAGATISHEEL MAHILA SANGATHAN
Chhabi Mohanty – ALL INDIA MAHILA SANSKRITIK SANGATHAN
Mitali Gupta – ALL INDIA AGRAGAMI