Punjab CM Amarinder Singh, in his address at Niti Aayog meeting chaired by Prime Minister Modi in Delhi Sunday, made a case for a national debt waiver scheme for farmers. He urged the PM to constitute a committee of the Union Government and some Chief Ministers to formulate a blueprint for a debt waiver scheme for farmers in consultation with states, said a government statement after the meeting.
The CM underlined Punjab’s important role in the defence and food security of the nation and made a strong case for debt relief for the farmers, said the statement. It added that his government had already announced a scheme for institutional crop loan waiver in the state to all marginal and small farmers having outstanding crop loans of up to Rs 2 lakh, thus providing relief to 10.25 lakh farmers.
While underlining the importance of the Swaminathan Committee report to be accepted in totality, the Chief Minister urged the Governing Council to consider the issue of agricultural loan waiver at the national level, on priority.
While talking about federalism, the Chief Minister reiterated his government’s request for central assistance to celebrate the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev and the centenary of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre in Amritsar next year, in a befitting manner.
“The Chief Minister pushed for special one-time infrastructure development package for border areas of Punjab, which has an active international border, with thickly populated border districts. Lamenting that the criteria for allocation of funds under Border Areas Development Programme remained unfavourable to Punjab, he also called for acquisition of lands that lie beyond the border fence by the Government of India, along with incentives for industry in the border area” the statement said.
Describing the meeting of the NITI Aayog as the ideal platform for allowing States to address their concerns in a joint forum before the Union Government, ensuring that these do not impede the larger process of development and nation-building, Captain Amarinder also sought tax incentives and promotional schemes to 30 km border belt as is given to the hilly and north-eastern region. He also called for special development and maintenance of border roads in Punjab under the National Highway programme, said the statement.
The CM also touched upon issues of serious water crisis towards which Punjab is slowly moving. He urged the Centre to include the rivers of Punjab for capital assistance on the lines of the Ganga Action Plan. The Chief Minister also sought procurement of alternate crops such as maize, oilseeds and pulses by central agencies, besides urging the central government to incentivize farmers through a conditional cash transfer by way of non-burning bonus of Rs 100/ quintal on paddy, in order to check the problem of burning of paddy straw.
While farm machinery was being subsidised for farmer groups and cooperative societies by his government, and stubble burning was down in 2017 from 2016, the problem, however, still remained serious, he added in