20 June, 2017
After Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh waiving off farmer loans in the wake of large scale protests, Punjab followed suit on Monday with Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh announcing a waiver of the entire crop loan for small and marginal farmers in the state. Making the announcements during his speech in the state assembly on Monday, Amarinder said the move would benefit 10.25 lakh farmers.
"The initiative would provide double the relief announced by the states of Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra", the chief minister was quoted as saying by IANS.
The state government also said that they would provide more than two lakhs loans to around 1.5 marginal farmers.
A government release said that by amending Section 26-A of the Punjab Excise Act, 1914, all ambiguities would be removed and while there will be no retail vend within 500 metres of the national and state highways, these restrictions shall not apply to hotels, restaurants and clubs situated on the national and state highways.
Singh has also proposed that the Speaker set up a five-member committee of the Vidhan Sabha that would visit the families of the farmers who committed suicide, find out the reasons what forced them to take such an extreme step and then suggest ways in which this issue could be resolved forever.
He also told the assembly that his government had already made a decision to repeal Section 67 A of the Punjab Cooperative Societies Act, 1961, which provides for auction (kurki) of farmers' land. Had this not been done, his government would have utilized the additional Rs. 31,000 crore amount also to benefit the farmers, he added.
He also announced a series of other measures to bring the agriculture sector back on track.
Punjab had got just 0.8% of the Rs 52,520 crore loan waiver that the UPA-I government had announced in 2008.
"The loan waivers would likely worsen the fiscal deficits and leverage levels of the state governments, unless other resources are mobilised or expenditure is controlled", said Aditi Nayar of ICRA, an affiliate of Moody's Investors Service.
He also announced his government's decision to computerise all the operations in the state under the "End to End Computerisation of Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS) operations" scheme to ensure leakage/diversion free distribution of subsidised food grains to eligible beneficiaries.
He reiterated his commitment to the promotion of horticulture to help in crop diversification and boost farmers' income and has announced a slew of initiatives for the same.