Chandigarh: After Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh waiving off farmer loans in the wake of large scale protests, Punjab followed suit on Monday with Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh announcing a waiver of the entire crop loan for small and marginal farmers in the state.
The loan waiver will provide relief up to Rs 2 lakh for small and marginal farmers (with land up to five acres), along with Rs 2 lakh waiver for all marginal farmers. The waiver was decided based on an interim report made by a group of experts headed by economist T Haque.
Captain Amarinder Singh’s announcement is a partial fulfilment of the major poll promise of entire loan waiver, made by the ruling Indian National Congress in Punjab. He said that his government has remained committed to salvaging farmers’ woes and has additionally decided to pay back the outstanding crop loans of farmers who committed suicide in the state. The Punjab government will raise the ex-gratia for families of farmers committing suicide from Rs 3 lakh to Rs 5 lakh.
During his speech in the Punjab Assembly, the chief minister said this move by the government would provide “double the relief announced by the state of Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra”. Of the 18.5 lakh farmers in the state, the decision is in the interest of a total of 10.25 lakh farmers. This includes 8.75 lakh marginal farmers.
Addressing the farmer loans raised from non-institutional resources, the government has decided to review the Punjab Settlement of Agriculture Indebtedness Act. Relief to such farmers will be provided through mutually acceptable debt reconciliation, which shall statutorily bind both the lender and the borrower. "The government has already constituted a Cabinet Sub-Committee to review this Act," Amarinder said.
He also proposed that a five-member committee constituted by the Speaker could visit families of the suicide victims. They will examine the reasons for suicides and suggest measures that can be taken to avoid such instances. He also said that his government has decided to repeal Section 67A of the Punjab Cooperative Societies Act, 1961, deals with the auction (kurki) of farmers' land.
The chief minister appealed to all well-off farmers in the state to give up their power subsidy willingly, in order to support the debt-ridden farmers. In a leading example to big farmers, he announced his decision to immediately give up the subsidy at his own farms....