Farm suicides, debt: AAP-LIP MLAs meet guv, demand special assembly session
Khaira, who held a press conference after meeting the governor, said the special session should be convened to discuss the farm debt and suicides, the reasons and solutions to this mounting challenge.punjab Updated: Aug 09, 2017 11:27 IST
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and its ally Lok Insaaf Party (LIP) on Tuesday demanded a three-day special session of the Punjab assembly to discuss the issues of farmer suicide and debt.
Led by leader of Opposition Sukhpal Singh Khaira, legislators of the AAP and LIP met Punjab governor VP Singh Badnore with the request to summon the session. The delegation, in a memorandum submitted to the governor, also suggested a one-year moratorium on the recovery of agriculture loans and interest. “The moratorium should be done on Karnataka pattern to provide breathing space to the debt-ridden farming and farm labour fraternity,” it said.
Khaira, who held a press conference after meeting the governor, said the special session should be convened to discuss the farm debt and suicides, the reasons and solutions to this mounting challenge. The proceedings of the session should be shown live on television, he said.
The AAP leader hit out at the Captain Amarinder Singh government for doing a U-turn on its poll promise of a complete waiver of debt of farmers of all categories, including their loans dues with regard of state cooperative banks, nationalised banks and the commission agents. The farm debt has crossed an alarming level of ₹1 lakh crore, acquiring dangerous proportions, but the government announced a meagre categorised and conditional debt waiver, he said.
“The inadequate debt waiver has not only had no effect, but has further escalated the suicides by farmers and farm labourers. More than 100 farmers have committed suicides in less than four months of the Congress government. One farmer even held the Congress government responsible in a suicide note,” he claimed.
The two parties, in their memorandum, have also suggested that Punjab should be divided into different agricultural zones depending upon the nature of soil and water availability. “Each zone should have a different crop cycle with an assured market/purchase of their produce and the government should explore markets of the Middle-East and Central Asia,” it read.
Khaira also sought a one- time settlement scheme for the agriculture sector and farmers so that all those willing to settle these loans could available the facility and all farmers who had already paid double the amount of principal should be unburdened of their debt. “If the Modi government can write off bad debts of a few large corporate houses, we are sure the state government can give relief to farmers,” he said.
LIP president Simarjit Singh Bains said that Amarinder and his party distributed forms to debt-ridden farmers to show their commitment in the run-up to the elections, but the government’s announcement on debt waiver has disappointed them. Khaira and Simarjit also urged NRIs to come forward to help the debt-hit farmers and their families.