After a gap of over two months, the Punjab government going to disburse farm loan waiver certificates to around 35,000 marginal farmers in five districts at a function in Jalandhar on March 14. The scheme was rolled out on January 7 from Mansa district where around 47,000 marginal farmers from five districts in Malwa region were given cheques towards loans taken from cooperative lenders only. The total amount waived was Rs 167 crore.
With the second phase, the number of farmers getting farm loan waiver would reach up to 82,000, which is much below the target set by the state government. In the second phase, farmers from Ludhiana, Jalandhar, Kapurthala, Fazilka and Ferozpur districts will be given the waiver certificates. D P Reddy, chairman of Punjab State Cooperative Bank Limited, said the verification process was going on and the actual number of beneficiary farmers may go little up and in the second phase.
J S Bains, director (agriculture) in the state, said verifications were on for the final list. A Congress MLA from Jalandhar said over 700 buses would ferry farmers to the venue on March 14 from the adjoining districts like Moga and Faridkot for which duties have been assigned to party workers and officials. According to Punjab government’s own survey, there are 18.50 lakh farmer households in the state, of which around 10.40 lakh are in marginal category (up to one hectare or 2.5 acres of land holding) and small farmer category (up to two hectares or 5 acres of land).
The government’s loan waiver notification says a waiver of Rs 2 lakh on crop loan will be provided to small/marginal farmers of the state. In case of marginal farmers, loan waiver up to Rs 2 lakh will be provided even if he/she has more than this amount in loan from cooperative or public/private banks, but small farmers are not eligible for the same if their debt is more than Rs 2 lakh from multiple banks.
The Punjab government prepared a software where all the cooperative banks’ branches from across the state have uploaded information about 5.17 lakh small and marginal farmers who have outstanding loans totalling Rs 2,710.14 crore. Meanwhile, farmers of Punjab organised a convention in Jalandhar on Thursday and rejected the government’s formula of waiving loan and demanded that the total loan must be waived without any conditions.
Jagmohan Singh, general secretary of farmer outfit BKU Dakonda, said, “Our demand is to waive entire debts of farmers.”