Several farmers not eligible for debt waiver in the current phase turned up at the venue of the CM’s function at Nakodar only to realise that their names were not in the list of beneficiaries who were given waiver certificates by Amarinder Singh on Wednesday. They said local Congress leaders had brought them to the venue with the promise that they would also get waiver certificates. In the first phase, the government is considering debt waiver only in cases of marginal farmers (having up to one hectare or 2.5 acres) who have taken loans from cooperative banks. The number of such farmers in Punjab has been pegged at 3 lakh.
“We were told we would also get waiver and asked to fill forms. Congress leaders of our areas asked us to attend the function, but after coming here, I came to know I am not eligible for it ,” said Balbir Singh of village Dhani Kamahian Wali from Abohar in Fazilka District, who has taken a loan of Rs one lakh from a cooperative bank. Balbir owns 4.75 acres and falls under the small farmer category. Santoh Singh of Kudowal village in Kapurthala district, who owns five acres, said he also came to know only at the venue that he was neither eligible for debt waiver during this phase nor in the future. Though in small farmer category, Santoh Singh has taken a loan of over Rs two lakh, including Rs 1.10 lakh from a cooperative, which makes him ineligible for the waiver.
Jarmal Singh of Rajpur village from Dhilwan in Kapurthala, who own four acres, has taken a loan of Rs 80,000 from a cooperative banks and around Rs 3 lakh from other banks. Since his total loan outstanding exceeds Rs 2 lakh, he too is ineligible for debt waiver as per criteria set by the state government. He said he was also brought to the venue by local Congress leaders and the cooperative bank had filled his form for loan waiver. Same was the case of Kuldip Singh, a small farmer from Jandusingha village in Jalandhar who has a loan of over Rs 3 lakh.
According to records of cooperative banks, more than 90 per cent small farmers are having outstanding loans of over Rs 2 lakh each taken from several banks and as per the government notification, they are ineligible for the waiver.