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Loan sharks prey on Tripura staff

Agartala, May 27: Money lending at exorbitant rates has emerged as a major problem in the Bardowali area here.

A group of moneylenders in this area has been lending money to poorly paid employees of Tripura Government Press.

“The poorly paid employees borrow a few hundred rupees at 10 per cent or 20 per cent interest for a month from the money lenders who demand the authorisation on the borrowers’ salary as security; the borrowers never get out of the loan,” said Swapan Bhowmik, assistant secretary of the Press Employees’ Association.

During the past decade, the moneylenders have taken gratuity and provident fund of two employees, who died before they could clear their loans.

“These unfortunate things have been happening for many years. In 2005, we had floated a co-operative for press employees to save them from financial ruin by giving loans at negligible interest, but this collapsed within three years; we are planning to try one more time,” said Bhowmik.

He said the problem of moneylenders was flourishing in almost all state government offices.

Haripada Karmakar, a clerk in the office of the district magistrate (west) was physically assaulted in March this year, as he failed to pay interests of Rs 3,000 a month to a private money lender.

Leaders of employees’ association are planning to set up branches of organisations like Bandhan and Samriddhi, which are engaged in micro-finance, near their offices.

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