Amid reports of farmers’ suicides even after announcemrny of farm loan waiver, CM Amarinder Singh on Thursday met representatives of farmers’ unions and asked them to tell farmers that their loans had been waived off.
As some expressed displeasure saying that the loan waiver was too inadequate, Amarinder told them that a Cabinet sub-committee had already been formed to speak to the Arthiyas to resolve the issue of non-institutional loans.
Principal Secretary, Finance, Aniridh Tewari gave a power point presentation to the leaders farmers’ outfits showing how Punjab, despite being in financial distress, had rolled out the loan waiver.
The meeting was informed that the process of loan waiver, as announced in the budget, would start within two months.
The Chief Minister assured the farmers’ organisations that his government would engage with them in a continuous dialogue.
He said that the government was committed to waiving off loans of farmers, even though the state’s debt burden had turned out to be much higher than anticipated.
Amarinder asserted that his government would fulfil each of the 49-point agenda for farmers in the poll manifesto
to make agriculture profitable.
The Chief Minister once again reiterated Punjab’s inability to share river water with other states, pointing out that if SYL comes up then a whopping 10,000 acre of southern part of the state would go dry.
He also said that his government would continue to put pressure on the Centre for implementation of the recommendations of the Swaminathan Commission. Union leaders reiterated that it was the only long-term solution to the problems of the farming community.
A suggestion was made by farmers organisations that the Vidhan Sabha should pass a resolution for implementation of the Swaminathan commission report, and also for declaring Punjab a special agricultural zone.
While BKU (Lakhowal) called for lowering of prices of pesticides and insecticides, the Pagri Sabhal Jatta Lehar spoke of fixing of sugarcane price at a minimum of Rs 375 per quintal as well as other issues related to sugarcane production.
BKU (Sidhupur) wanted direct payment to the farmers rather than through procurement agencies and change in transformers as per load. BKU (Mann) demanded grant of pensions to farmers above the age of 60.
PPCC president Sunil Jakhar urged the state government to take up the issue of exclusion of agriculture from GST with the central government. He also proposed the creation of an MSP Fund from the money saved by the Centre from the lowering of the fuel import cost.