Notwithstanding Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa’s direction to commercial banks not to deduct the amount credited to people from weaker sections towards the COVID-19 relief package, a bank here has deducted not only the relief amount, but whatever meagre amount was left in a poor autorickshaw driver’s account towards a housing loan EMI.
Abdul Basheer, 49, was among thousands of autorickshaw drivers who lost income following the unofficial lockdown announced by the government since April this year. He had bought a house in Surinje village, near Surathkal about four years ago by availing ₹14 lakh loan from Canara Bank, Baikampady branch, that had an EMI of ₹13,165 and was regular in repayment.
Mr. Basheer told The Hindu he inquired with bank personnel last month whether there was any moratorium for EMI repayment as provided last year as his income was severely affected following the unofficial lockdown. The branch manager answered him in the negative but told him he need not worry even if one or two instalments fall due as he was regular in repayment.
However, to his dismay, ₹ 2,728 balance in his account was debited on the EMI due date with zero balance in the account. On Friday morning, he was surprised to see two SMSes on his mobile, one was about credit of ₹ 3,000 from CM relief package and another was about deducting the same amount towards housing loan EMI.
“My two elder sons who were doing errands too are now jobless because of the lockdown and it is difficult to maintain a family of four children with whatever meagre income I get. I’m now planning to sell off the house to become debt-free,” he told The Hindu.
Mr. Basheer said he was not a wilful defaulter, but was forced to become one only because of the lockdown. The government should have given a moratorium like last year, he said. Even though the bank had given him a moratorium last year, it collected nearly ₹ 7,000 towards penal interest in addition to the regular EMI, he said.
Branch manager Umesh Hegde denied Mr. Basheer making any such request and said he should have visited the branch with the request. “As per the auto-debit procedure, amounts get deducted on the due date,” he said. Senior officials of the bank did not respond to messages and calls.
Mr. Basheer said he was not aware that money in the account would get debited without even leaving a decent sum under the auto-debit system. “I am ignorant in that matter,” he said.