‘Waiver process on, farmers can immediately stop repaying debt’
The CM did not have a convincing reply on why the government announced crop loan waiver for only a section of farmers. BALBIR SINGH RAJEWAL, BKU chief
Assuring an early notification to implement the agricultural debt waiver, Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Thursday said the farmers whose loans had been waived stood immediately exempt from repayment of loans.
The CM, who was addressing representatives of a dozen farmers’ organisations, said his government would continue to pressure the Centre for implementation of the Swaminathan Commission report. “This is high on my agenda,” he told them.
The representatives were also informed that the process of loan waiver would start within two months, according to an official release.
Amarinder made the write-off announcement on June 19. The promise, whose cost has been pegged at Rs 9,500 crore, was among a raft of promises made by the Congress in the run-up to the assembly polls.
Sukhdev Singh Khokari of Bharatiya Kisan Union (Ugrahan), Shinder Singh Lakhewal of BKU Krantikari (Shinder), Datar Singh of Kirti Kisan Union, Randheer Singh Azad of Kisan Sangarash Committee, Harinder Singh Lakhowal of BKU (Lakhowal), Balbir Singh Rajewal BKU (Rajewal), Shinder Singh Lakhewal of BKU Krantikari (Shinder), Bhupinder Singh Mann of BKU (Mann) and Buta Singh of BKU Dakonda were among the farmers’ union leaders who attended the meeting.
Amarinder told them that his government was committed to waiving the loans, even though the state’s debt burden had turned out to be much higher than anticipated. “The government will fulfil each of the 49-point agenda for farmers in the poll manifesto to make agriculture profitable.”
Responding to concerns expressed by the farmers’ representatives, he said a cabinet subcommittee had already been formed to speak to arhtiyas to resolve the issue of non-institutional loans. Besides loan waiver, other issues discussed by kisan unions included fixation of price of crops on recommendations of Swaminathan Commission report, compensation of Rs 10 lakh to kin of debt-ridden farmers who committed suicide and job to one dependent member of family.
There was also suggestion that the state assembly should pass a resolution for implementation of the Swaminathan commission report and also for declaring Punjab a special agricultural zone. Punjab Congress president Sunil Jakhar urged the state government to take up the issue of exclusion of agriculture from GST with the central government, besides suggesting norms to regulate lending by private agents and lenders, who charge arbitrary interest rates.
Cabinet ministers Manpreet Singh Badal and Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa, Punjab Mandi Board chairman Lal Singh, media adviser to chief minister Raveen Thukral, chief principal secretary to chief minister Suresh Kumar and chief secretary Karan Avtar Singh were among those who also attended the meeting.
Chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh presiding over a meeting with representatives of farmers' organisations at Punjab Bhawan in Chandigarh on Thursday.