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Even as the Union Government continues to push through with reforms in the cooperative sector – as evident by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Agriculture recently inviting suggestions, views and comments on the Multi-State Cooperative Societies Amendment Bill – the Uttarakhand Government continues to maintain an intransigent stand on implementing the Vaidyanathan Committee recommendations in the State. The State government has failed to implement these recommendations which would make the management of cooperative societies more responsible and accountable to the members, despite signing an agreement with the Union government in 2006. The State government has also not been able to arrive at any decision as yet, on issues such as full control of NABARD on primary committees and cooperative banks and handing over all exclusive rights to management boards of committees and banks.
Immediately after implementation of the recommendations, there would be reduction in direct interference of the political parties because of increase of the number of professional in the management board. The fate of the employees including the secretaries of the committees would be decided by their work. NABARD would also keep with it the audit examination of committees. Presently, this privilege is with the state government. In the new arrangement too, NABARD would have to go in for elections to the management board at the appointed time. If this does not happen then the Registrar would have the right to take the initiative and get the elections done. In the election, constituencies would also be designated for advocates, agriculture graduates, economists, banking experts and former bank employees. As such, this would naturally cause reduction in participation of such political persons in the board, who maintain direct interference in the bank on the pretext of being farmers.
Banking experts have time and again predicted that NABARD’s take–over of cooperative banks would definitely improve the working system of the banks. The loss making committees would start generating profits, the banks would have greater freedom of operation and they would be able to operate on a larger canvas. The farmers too would be able to avail loans at lower interest rates from any of the banks. The inclusion of professionals in the management board would help reduce the level of interference of political parties in banks.
As people from political parties would then have a lesser say in the state of affairs, perhaps this is alone the reason why the government is dithering on implementing the same, whereas most of the states in the country such as M.P., Maharashtra and U.P. have already implemented it. But political expediency cannot be allowed to continue when farmers in the State have to take cooperative loans at the rate of 9 per cent interest while other states are giving loans at the rate of 3 per cent interest to their farmers through the cooperative societies.
The deliberate attempts of the State government to delay the modernisation of the cooperative societies must not be allowed to succeed. Under the circumstances, the new Government to assume office in the State within a week to ten days’ time should fully implement the Vaidyanathan Committee recommendations in letter and spirit, and set into motion the growth of a healthy cooperative movement in the State.