Debt waiver: 5.63 lakh Punjab farmers on list so far | punjab | Hindustan Times
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Debt waiver: 5.63 lakh Punjab farmers on list so far

‘Not enough’: Number way lower than promised 10 lakh in proposal rolled out in June; first phase covers loans from state cooperative banks; Punjab CM Capt Amarinder to visit Mansa to give away Rs 170 crore in waiver to 46,000 farmers from five districts.

punjab Updated: Jan 03, 2018 10:39 IST
Gurpreet Singh Nibber
The initial phase covers marginal farmers (with land less than 2.5 acres) who have taken loans from the state cooperative banks.
The initial phase covers marginal farmers (with land less than 2.5 acres) who have taken loans from the state cooperative banks.(HT Photo)

The Punjab government has identified 5.63 lakh farmers for the crop loan waiver promised by the Congress regime. The number, however, is lower than the proposal rolled out in June last year, which had put it at 10 lakh farmers. On January 7, chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh will visit Mansa to give away the first installment of Rs 170 crore in waiver to 46,000 farmers from five districts, including Moga, Mansa, Muktsar, Bathinda and Faridkot.

The initial phase covers marginal farmers (with land less than 2.5 acres) who have taken loans from the state cooperative banks. The CM would personally hand over waiver certificates to 25 farmers, that is, five from each district. 

A large number of farmers are complaining that their names are missing from the final lists. 

As for the total number being lower than promised, officials cite a key change between the promise and the policy. The promise was that all farmers owning fewer than five acres will get a maximum of Rs 2 lakh as waiver, even if they have a higher loan. Now, only those with loans of up to Rs 2 lakh are covered, and those with higher loan will not be covered at all, officials said.

A senior government officer told HT, “The number may fall further, because verification is on by the revenue and agriculture departments, and Aadhaar linkages are underway too to know of multiple loans in a family among other criteria. Also, the social audit which began last week will make things clearer.” 

Additional chief secretary Vishavjeet Khanna differed. “Verification is still on. We have to verify crop loan accounts in nationalised and private banks. All those covered under the policy will get benefit. Until that verification is complete, there is no way of giving an exact number.” 

Yet, sources said that most farmers in the state are attached with the cooperative sector, and some of them have also made parallel overdraft limits and taken loans from other banks. There are 10 lakh farmers who have accounts in the state’s cooperative banks, and 7.5 lakh are active users of crop loan facility. On January 7, from the CM, 46,000 farmers belonging to 683 cooperative societies will get waiver certificates. 

2.7 lakh cases under social audit 

Of the 5.63 lakh cases under consideration, 3.2 lakh have reached the revenue department for verification of the land ownership; and so far 2.71 lakh have been cleared by sub-division-level committees and sent for social audit by way of pasting lists at a common place in the villages.

A large number of farmers are complaining that their names are missing from the final lists. 

“The verification is an evolving process, as the figures change on hourly basis and we hope to cover all by March 31,” said state cooperative bank managing director SK Batish.