In a function held in Patiala on December 7, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh waived off debt of ₹1,771 crores of 1.09 lakh farmers in a move to ensure relief to them.
This ‘phase two’ roll out of the farmers’ loan waiver scheme had initially been postponed after the Congress’s plans to roll out this phase in the presence of the party President Rahul Gandhi in the state Congress Chief Sunil Jakhar’s native place could not materialise.
According to sources, the function which was scheduled to be held in Abohar was cancelled in view of Rajasthan polling day on December 7 and the district’s proximity to the state. It was then moved to the Punjab CM Captain Amarinder Singh’s hometown Patiala.
Addressing the function the chief minister reiterated his commitment to waive off the loans of the landless labourers in the subsequent phases of the implementation of the waiver scheme. He also underlined the need to export sugar and potatoes to Central Asian countries and said that he has written to the prime minister urging him to includethese items in the export list.
The Punjab government has been assuring that all the eligible farmers under this scheme get debt relief and no genuine beneficiary is left out. The debt relief scheme is a continuous process and it ensures that every eligible farmer would be covered under it.
When Captain Amarinder Singh came to power in March last year, he had promised a loan waiver of ₹9,500 crores to over 10 lakh small and marginal farmers in the State and since then, just in a span of 20 months, strong steps have been taken to assuage the burden of loan on farmers.
As part of the Punjab farmers debt relief scheme initiated by the Government in 2017, a loan waiver of up to ₹2 lakh is being given to all the marginal farmers and to the small farmers who have availed loan up to ₹2 lakhs under the scheme.
In the first phase of the loan waive off which took place on January 7th this year, when the scheme was launched around 3.18 lakh marginal farmers of five districts - Mansa, Bathinda, Faridkot, Muktsar and Moga were given a relief of ₹1,815 crores.
K S Pannu, Secretary, Department of Agriculture of the Punjab government explained the scheme, “We are covering 1.09 lakh farmers and giving them debt relief of ₹1815 crore in the second phase under the Punjab Farmers Debt Relief Scheme 2017. The farmers who will be debt-waived will be pertaining to Commercial Banks. In the third and fourth phase, we will cover 2.15 lakh and 50,752 small farmers of Cooperative and Commercial banks respectively.”
With the recent farmer protests in the national capital regarding Central Government’s silence on loan waivers and farmer suicides, this step taken by Punjab is welcoming and encouraging for the farmers of the state and rest of India, who have been fighting for their rights.
Punjab chief minister personally handed over the cheques to the farmers signifying that his government is very keen to provide whatever assistance farmers require so that the condition of farmers in Punjab improves. The chief minister has also been actively tweeting about the recent initiatives of his government.