Punjab cabinet okays farm debt bill

  • HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
  • Updated: Mar 22, 2016 21:19 IST
The bill covers agriculturists and agriculture labourers and will be tabled in the ongoing session of the Vidhan Sabha. (HT Photo )

The Punjab cabinet on Monday approved ‘The Punjab Settlement of Agricultural Indebtedness Bill-2016’ that deals with expeditious determination and settlement of non-institutional agricultural debt.

The bill covers agriculturists and agriculture labourers and will be tabled in the ongoing session of the Vidhan Sabha.

Under the bill, district-level agricultural debt settlement forums and a state-level agricultural debt settlement tribunal will be set up to help farmers reconcile and settle their non-institutional debts.

The district-level forums will be headed by a retired/serving district or additional district sessions judge having two more members (one representative of farming community and another representative of moneylenders), while the state-level tribunal will be headed by a retired judge of the high court, besides two members.

Both the forum and tribunal will have a three-year term.

The Bill also enables the government to prescribe a maximum rate of interest which can be charged by the creditors on non-institutional loans provided by them. The forum will decide the dispute within three months. Jurisdiction of civil courts has been barred. All pending disputes in the civil courts will be transferred to these forums from the date the Act is notified. Each creditor will issue an authenticated passbook to the debtor. The proceedings before the forum and the tribunal will be judicial proceedings.

According to the provisions of the proposed Bill, any debtor or creditor of agricultural loan can file a petition before the district-level forum for settlement of their debt, and if aggrieved with the order of the forum, can file an appeal before the state-level tribunal. The forum can determine and settle agricultural loans up to Rs 15 lakh.

Huge hike in gallantry award money

Rs 2 crore: Param Vir Chakra/Ashok Chakra-up from Rs 30 lakh

Rs 1 crore: Maha Vir Chakra/Kirti Chakra-up from Rs 20 lakh

Rs 50 lakh: Vir Chakra/Shaurya Chakra-up from Rs 15 lakh

Rs 14 lakh: Sena/Nau Sena/Vayu Sena Medal (One for gallantry awardee-up from Rs 7 lakh)

Rs 10 lakh: Mention-in-Dispatch-earlier Rs 5 lakh

Nod to recruitment in health

Nod to fill the posts, including Group A (non-teaching), nursing faculty posts (Group A and Group B), Group B and Group C through a committee headed by the vice-chancellor, Baba Farid University of Health Sciences, Faridkot.

The posts of medical/dental teaching faculty would be filled by the committee under the chairmanship of the adviser to the Punjab government on health and medical education Dr KK Talwar. The Group D posts would be filled by the head of the institutions concerned. The step would remove the deficiencies raised by the Medical Council of India/Dental Council of India and Indian Nursing Council with regard to shortage of faculty and staff in these institutions.

The government had already sanctioned 34 posts of teaching faculty in Government Medical Colleges, Patiala and Amritsar.

The cabinet also gave approval to grant extension in the contract of health pharmacists and sweepers working as service providers at Rs 7,000 and Rs 3,000 per month, respectively, in 1,186 subsidiary health centres under zila parishads from April 1, 2016 to March 31, 2017.

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