The farming community, which is under acute depression due to long goining agrarian crisis, were left disappointed as the Congress government in Punjab announced its second budget Saturday. Experts and farmers of Punjab have termed it as a highly ‘insignificant’, ‘minus rating’ and depressive budget for the farming community which, they say, will lead to more and more ‘farmer suicides’ in Punjab in the future. Experts said that in the first budget we understood the helplessness of the government because it was newly formed, but now in the second budget there were big hopes from the government, but this budget too does not bring any relief to the farmers.
They said that in last budget there was provision of Rs 1,500 crore for farmers debt relief but only Rs 370 crore was distributed among the farmers which is around 1/5th of the budget allocation. Calling it an ‘insignificant budget’, former economics professor Punjabi University Patiala and expert of farm issues Professor Gian Singh, said it has nothing for the agricultural labourer and rural artisans. “Also Rs 4,250 crore allocation to pay the debt in budget would not be sufficient to pay the interest of Rs 90,000 crore farm debt,” he said, adding that nothing is there to bring out the farmers from the debt trap of private money lenders.
About the diversification policy, farmer leader Buta Singh Burjgill said that they are announcing that 7,000 families would be supported for diversification of 10,000 acres (4,000 hectares) . “Where the state is dedicating 30 lakh hectares under water guzzling rice crops, diversifying of 4,000 hectares area is a biggest joke of this budget concerning diversification,” said Buta Singh. “In Punjab there are over 10 lakh small and marginal farmers and keeping Rs 4,250 crores for debt waiver is a cruel joke and would not given any real relief to farmers of Punjab,” said Jagmohan Singh, General Secretary Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU) Dakunda, adding that with such meagre amount the turn of small farmers will hardly come during the tenure of this government and even marginal farmers will not be able to get the announced benefit of upto Rs 2 lakh during the period of this government.
Sukhdev Singh Kokari Kalan, general secretary of BKU (Ugrahan), said that Captain Amarinder Singh had not fulfilled his promise and the policies he is bringing in the budget is ‘suicidal’ for the farmers. In last one year small and marginal farmers have come under more debt burden even. “Why government is silent over real solution which lies in increasing the income of farmers, which can come only when the mismatch between price realizations and production costs of agricultural produce ends”, he said. Farmers, too, sought to draw a link between their incomes and debt problems. “Till we don’t get good incomes from our farms, we will never come out of debt”, said Amarjit Singh, a farmer from Jalandhar.