Fisherfolk lay siege after bank loses pledged documents

A group, consisting of 17 fishermen, had availed a combined loan of Rs 25 lakh in 2005 by pledging 14 documents. Photo: Representational image/Reuters

Alappuzha: A group of fisherfolk, led by CPM legislator P P Chitharanjan, laid siege to the regional office of the State Bank of India (SBI) here after the bank officials admitted to having lost 14 documents pledged by a group of 17 individuals.

District Collector Haritha V Kumar intervened on the issue on Friday as the protest intensified. A compromise meeting was soon held at the Collector’s chamber in which the bank agreed to waive off the loan interest and promised to ready new documents for all the affected individuals in another 15 days.

“During the compromise talks, the senior bank officials promised to submit new documents in place of the lost ones and submit the same before the collector’s chamber by July 31,” P P Chitharanjan MLA told Onmanorama.

A group, consisting of 17 fishermen, had availed a combined loan of Rs 25 lakh in 2005 by pledging 14 documents. The loan though was closed in 2010. However, the bank failed to return the documents without giving any specific reason.

“I have been in touch with the bank officials. Each time, they assured me that the documents would be returned but stopped short of committing a date. All these years, the bank never said the reason. Now they are admitting to the fact they have lost the documents,” the legislator said.

The group of fisherfolks took the loan to purchase new fishing gear and boats. The state government repaid the principal amount in 2010 after the loan beneficiaries failed to repay.

“A sum of Rs 24 lakh was repaid then. The interest was pending though. The bank, during the talks, agreed to waive off the interest and the remaining loan amount,” the legislator said.

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