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Panel to probe complaints of debt relief denial
THE HINDU, NOVEMBER 24, 2018


KOZHIKODE: Banks adopting renewal tactic to surpass KSFDRC order, says commission chief

The Kerala State Fishermen Debt Relief Commission (KSFDRC) will probe fishermen’s complaint that some banks are denying debt relief to them using questionable methods.


KSFDRC Chairman P.S. Gopinathan, who was in the city for an adalat, said the banks were found adopting a renewal tactic, hoping it would help them surpass the commission’s order for debt relief. “Even if renewal or closure was done by a fishermen, responding to the bank’s frequent demands and persuasion, he is eligible for debt relief with retrospective effect,” he added.

Mr. Gopinathan said some banks had been adopting renewal strategy with a misconception that it was enough to cancel all previous agreements between lenders and borrowers. “Some even pretend to be ignorant of the true intention. We will check all files, and the banks, if found responsible for such renewal tactics, will have to pay back the additionally collected amount to the borrowers with interest,” he added.

The chairman pointed out that the amended Kerala Fishermen Debt Relief Commission Act had all the required provisions to extend support to fishers who had availed loans till December 31, 2008. Earlier, it was available till December 31, 2007, and it had no provisions for claiming relief benefits citing natural calamities, he said.

“Though the amendment has just come into effect, it is yet to be made into an Act. The formalities are expected to be completed soon for extending benefits to fishers,” said Mr. Gopinathan. He observed that the amendment would directly benefit hundreds of fishers whose accessories, purchased under various loan schemes, were destroyed in natural calamities.

On Friday, the commission considered 18 complaints, of which a majority were related to delay on the part of various banks in granting debt relief benefits.

A cooperative bank, which was found responsible for collecting loan amount from two borrowers even after they were granted debt relief by the commission, was asked to credit the amount back. Accordingly, the bank will be liable to pay ?1.38 lakh to the borrowers.

Commission member Kootayi Basheer and Fisheries officials were present at the adalat.

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