Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath today announced that loans taken from private moneylenders by tribals in the state will be waived off under a government scheme, and the process in this regard will start on August 15.
"We will not only waive loans taken by tribals from moneylenders but also arrange for the return of properties and valuables pledged by them as security. Besides this, we'll ensure that only licensed moneylenders are allowed to lend money to tribals in the future. Those caught lending money to tribals without proper licences will be dealt with sternly," Kamal Nath told a gathering of tribals at an event held to mark World Indigenous People's Day in Chhindwara. He did not elaborate on the scheme.
The Chief Minister also said that all tribals in the state will be provided debit cards that ensure overdraft facilities of up to Rs 10,000. ATMs will also be established in areas with regular markets for tribals, he added.
These announcements came seven months after the Kamal Nath-led Congress returned to power in Madhya Pradesh on the back of a farm loan waiver promise. Agricultural loans of up to Rs 2 lakh taken by over 20 lakh farmers from cooperative and nationalised banks have been waived so far.
Besides this, Kamal Nath announced a new scheme aimed at providing 100 kg of rice and ghee to tribal families in the event of a death and 50 kg of rice and ghee in the event of a birth for hosting the customary community feast.
At the same event, Minister of Tribal Welfare Omkar Singh Markam announced that the state will establish 40 Eklavya Schools for tribal children, regularise 53,000 tribal teachers and convert forest villages into revenue villages.
Tribals account for over 20% of the state's population. Kamal Nath later addressed another tribal event in Jhabhu, where bypolls are expected to be held in the coming months.
Bhupesh Baghel, the Chief Minister of neighbouring Chhattisgarh, also announced a campaign to eradicate malnutrition and anaemia on the occasion of World Indigenous People's Day. The project, to be launched on Mahatma Gandhi's 150th birth anniversary, aims to make the state free of the two maladies in the next three years.