Debt waiver set for rollout in Punjab: In first phase, relief for 47,000 marginal farmers only

CM Captain Amarinder Singh will officially roll out the scheme from Mansa district and around 47,000 marginal farmers from five Malwa districts — Mansa, Bathinda, Sangrur, Mukatsar and Moga — will receive cheques towards loans taken from cooperative institutions.

Written by Anju Agnihotri Chaba | Jalandhar | Published: January 5, 2018 1:17:41 am
Debt waiver set for rollout: In first phase, only marginal relief for 47,000 marginal farmers  Punjab CM Amarinder Singh (File)

Darshan Singh of Gurne Kalan village in Mansa district’s Budhlada tehsil owns 19 kannals (2.3 acres) of farm land. He is a marginal farmer and has a crop loan of Rs 3,30,000, which includes Rs 30,000 from a cooperative society and remaining Rs 3 lakh from Punjab National Bank. When Punjab government rolls out its farm loan waiver scheme on January 7, Darshan will only have his cooperative society loan of Rs 30,000 waived as of now.

Dalip Singh of the same village owns 14 kannals and 14 marlas and has a crop loan of Rs 3.18 lakh, including Rs 18,000 from a cooperative society and remaining from PNB. For now, he will get a waiver for his loan from cooperative society only.

But there are several marginal farmers in the village with over Rs 2 lakh debt whose names do not feature in the waiver list despite being eligible. This seems to be the story across villages that feature in the first phase of the loan waiver scheme. CM Captain Amarinder Singh will officially roll out the scheme from Mansa district and around 47,000 marginal farmers from five Malwa districts — Mansa, Bathinda, Sangrur, Mukatsar and Moga — will receive cheques towards loans taken from cooperative institutions. As per government’s estimates, there are 1.42 lakh marginal farmers from these five districts.

According to Punjab government’s own survey, there are 18.50 lakh farmer households in Punjab, of which around 10.40 lakh are marginal (up to one hectare or 2.5 acres land) and small farmers (up to two hectares or 5 acres land). Governments’ loan waiver notification says a waiver of Rs 2 lakh crop loan will be provided to small/marginal farmers. In case of marginal farmers, loan waiver up to Rs 2 lakh will be provided even if he has more than this amount on him from cooperative or public/private banks, but in case of small farmers they are not eligible if their debt is more than Rs 2 lakh from multiple banks. Government is preferring marginal farmers first.

“We are confused about what government is doing. Those who were selected in first list must be given the complete Rs 2 lakh waiver, but only cooperative banks loan is being waived off ,” said Kulwant Sigh of Kishan Garh village, adding that what about laon from private and public sector banks.

“Also in our district government had identified around 31,000 marginal farmers, but only 7,700 are being given the waiver relief,” said Kulwant who is the state committee member of Bhartiya Kisan Union (Dakonda).

Punjab government has prepared a software where all the cooperative bank branches from across the state uploaded information about 5.17 lakh small and marginal farmers across the state having a total loan of Rs 2710.14 crore, but as per the government’s specifications only 3.18 lakh farmers’ data was accepted by portal with total outstanding of Rs 1667.87 crore and remaining farmers’ cases were rejected in verification due to discrepancies in linking of their accounts with Aadhaar, spelling mistakes or other technical faults.

Out of this number (3.18 lakh) 1.97 lakh were marginal farmers who were to be considered by government on priority. Now, only 47,000 farmers from five districts, which actually has 1,42481 marginal farmers, have qualified for debt waiver from cooperative banks.

Punjab’s commissioner (agriculture) Balwinder Singh Sidhu said every scheme has technical glitches initially and farmers whose names were rejected in first list will be considered again. “We have calculated Rs 9,600 crore loan of marginal farmers from all types of the banks, but as of now, Rs 170 crore would be released on January 7,” he said.

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