Punjab CM announces farm loan waiver, 8.75 lakh farmers to benefit

Manpreet Singh Badal

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.

The state government has also announced waiver of crop loans up to Rs 2 lakh for farmers who owns land up to five acre. His government will offer Rs 2 lakh relief for other marginal farmers irrespective of their loan amount.

During the last 10 years, the State Government had got only Rs. 230 crore as revenue from mining of sand/gravel, while his government had, through a single auction, raised revenue of Rs. 280 crore, which was expected to rise to Rs. 500-600 crore per annum once all auctions are completed, the Chief Minister informed the Vidhan Sabha.

He also said decisions by Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Uttar Pradesh to waive farmers' loans in their states led Maharashtra peasants to demand similar relief, which prompted his dispensation to announce the waiver.

The decision is based on the interim report of the Expert Group, headed by eminent economist Dr. T. Haque, and tasked with suggesting ways and means to help the state's distressed farming community.

Making it clear that his government stood by its commitment to waive off the crop loans of the farmers, Captain Amarinder said his government had also additionally chose to take over the outstanding crop loan from institutional sources of all the families of farmers who committed suicides in the state. Even an increase in the ex-gratia for families of farmers who committed suicide to Rs 5 lakh from Rs 3 lakh has been announced by the Pubjab government.

For those who borrowed from non-institutional resources, the government will review the Punjab Settlement of Agriculture Indebtedness Act to provide relief through mutually acceptable debt reconciliation and settlement.

Amarinder said his government has already constituted a Cabinet sub-committee to review the Act. He also said that his government has chose to repeal Section 67A of the Punjab Cooperative Societies Act, 1961, deals with the auction (kurki) of farmers' land.

At Rs 36,359 crore, the loan waiver announced by the Yogi government was the biggest at that time by any state.

Among other measures announced are an agriculture sustainability programme with focus on various initiatives to boost cultivation, growth and quality of crops, backed by attractive remuneration and greater incentives on alternative crops. This includes 8.75 lakh marginal farmers.

Other government officials, also had no clear explanations.

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