Punjab becomes latest state to offer farm sop, writes off more than Rs 20K crore
The government plans to cover 10.25 lakh farmers in its waiver scheme, and simple calculation says it involves Rs 20,500 crore. The state has 18 lakh farmers. Of the total, therefore, 56% farmers would be covered.Updated: Jun 20, 2017 10:17 IST
Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Monday announced crop loan waiver of up to Rs 2 lakh for farmers who own up to 5 acres of agriculture land and a flat relief of Rs 2 lakh for all other marginal farmers, irrespective of the loan amount.
Making the announcement in the Vidhan Sabha, the chief minister said the move will benefit a total of 10.25 lakh farmers, including 8.75 lakh farmers owning up to 5 acres. It would provide double the relief announced by Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra, he said.
Making it clear that his government stood by its commitment to waive the loans of farmers, Amarinder said his government has also decided to take over outstanding crop loan “from institutional sources” of all families of farmers who committed suicide in the state. It has also decided to raise the ex gratia for suicide-affected families to Rs 5 lakh from the existing Rs 3 lakh.
The decisions are based on the interim report of an expert group headed by economist T Haque that was tasked with suggesting ways and means to help the state’s distressed farming community, said a press release.
In a major step towards farm loan waiver, will give complete waiver for small, marginal farmers (upto 5 acres). This is just the beginning!— Capt.Amarinder Singh (@capt_amarinder) June 19, 2017
Opposition SAD and its ally BJP were not present in the House when the chief minister made the announcement as they had staged a walkout on another issue. However, the main opposition party AAP was present.
Taking a dig at the Akalis’ absence, the Congress leader said they should have remained present in the House and listened him out when he was talking on an issue concerning farmers.
The government has decided to review the Punjab Settlement of Agriculture Indebtedness Act, 2016 to “provide the desired relief to farmers through mutual acceptable debt reconciliation and settlement, which shall be statutorily binding on both the lender and the borrower.”
The government has already constituted a cabinet sub-committee to review the Act, he added. The chief minister proposed that the speaker may constitute a five-member committee of Vidhan Sabha to visit the families of the suicide victims, ascertain the reasons for the extreme step and suggest steps to check this menace forever.
Amarinder informed the House that his government had decided to repeal Section 67 A of the Punjab Cooperative Societies Act, 1961, which provides for auction/kurki of farmers land (auction of mortgaged land). The CM also reiterated the government’s commitment to provide free power to farmers but appealed to all big and well-to-do farmers of the state to give up power subsidy voluntarily.