Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Monday announced total waiver of entire crop loans for small and marginal farmers in Punjab.
The loan waiver will for up to Rs 2 lakh for small and marginal farmers (up to 5 acres) and a flat Rs 2 lakh relief for all other marginal farmers, irrespective of their loan amount, thus paving the way for eventual total waiver of agricultural debts to implement another major poll promise of the ruling party.
Making the announcements during his speech in the Punjab assembly, the Chief Minister said the move would benefit a total of 10.25 lakh farmers of the state’s 18.5 lakh farming families, including 8.75 lakh farmers having land up to 5 acres.
“The initiative would provide double the relief announced by the states of Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra,” Amarinder pointed out.
The decision is based on the interim report of an expert group, headed by eminent economist Dr T. Haque, which was 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, Amarinder said his government had also additionally decided to take over the outstanding crop loan from institutional sources of all the families of farmers who committed suicide in the state.
It has also decided to raise the ex-gratia for families of farmers committing suicide to Rs 5 lakh from the existing Rs 3 lakh.
For debt relief to farmers for loans raised from non-institutional resources, the government has decided to review the ‘Punjab Settlement of Agriculture Indebtedness Act’ to provide the desired relief to the farmers through mutually acceptable debt reconciliation and settlement, which shall be statutorily binding on both the parties, the lender and the borrower.
“The government has already constituted a Cabinet Sub Committee to review this Act,” Amarinder added.
The Chief Minister proposed that the Speaker may constitute a 5-member committee of the Vidhan Sabha to visit families of the suicide victims, ascertain the reasons for suicides and suggest further steps to be taken to check the menace.
He also told the assembly that his government had already decided to repeal Section 67 A of the Punjab Cooperative Societies Act, 1961, which provides for auction (kurki) of farmers’ land.
Also asserting that his government’s is committed to provide free power to farmers, he however, appealed to all big and well-to-do farmers of the state to give up power subsidy voluntarily.
Amarinder announced his decision to immediately give up the subsidy at his own farms to set a personal example, and appealed to his colleagues to do the same.