After Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh waiving off farmer loans in the wake of large scale protests, Punjab followed suit on Monday with Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singhannouncing a waiver of the entire crop loan for small and marginal farmers in the state. "But, Punjab Chief Minister yesterday took a decision to waive off the laons of in the state", said Congress' Punjab chief Sunil Jakhar.
The decision was based on the interim report of an expert group, headed by eminent economist Dr. T. Haque, which was tasked with identifying ways to help the state's distressed farming community.
Additionally, Amarinder said his government has chose to take over the outstanding institutional loans from institutional sources of all the families of farmers who committed suicide in the state. The Punjab government will raise the ex-gratia for families of farmers committing suicide from Rs 3 lakh to Rs 5 lakh.
For debt relief to farmers for loans raised from non-institutional resources, the government has chose to review the Punjab Settlement of Agriculture Indebtedness Act. Additionally suggested that the state government will also provide free wifi in primary schools and government colleges.
In April, the Adityanath government had announced a farm loan waiver worth Rs 36,359 crore for Uttar Pradesh farmerss.
"The cat is finally out of the bag and the bluff which the Congress played on the farmers on the eve of elections has been called in their very first budget".
Amarinder reiterated his government's stand on the Sutlej-Yamuna Link (SYL) canal, saying they would not allow the canal to be constructed at any cost as the state had no surplus water to share with others.
These include creation of land banks in all major towns to enable young entrepreneurs to set up industries or shift existing industries to new areas, fiscal incentives for border and kandi areas, simplification of process of obtaining CLU and the establishment of Industrial Policy Implementation Council under the chief minister to oversee time-bound development of industry in the state.
On the welfare front, the state government increased social security pensions from Rs 500 to Rs 750 per month to all beneficiaries including aged people, dependent children, disabled people, widows and destitute women. Had this not been done, his government would have utilized the additional Rs. 31,000 crore amount to benefit the farmers further, he said.
The Punjab Congress chief asked why the central government was not able to utilise the "windfall gains" accrued by it due to a fall in worldwide crude oil prices and announce a farm loan waiver as done by the UPA earlier.
Jakhar said there are about 18.5 lakh farmer families in Punjab, of which two-third are small and marginal farmers.
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