CHANDIGARH: Lashing out at the Akalis for trying to mislead the citizens of the state Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh on Wednesday promised total implementation of his party’s election promise on farm debt waiver while categorically ruling out any move to withdraw free power for agriculture.
While addressing the farming community at a programme to issue debt waiver certificates amounting to Rs. 162.16 crore to 29,192 farmers at the Dana Mandi near Nakodar, in the second stage of waiver of loans for the state’s 10.25 lakh small and marginal farmers. Eligible farmers from the five districts of Jalandhar, Kapurthala, Ludhiana, Fazilka and Ferozepur got their loan waiver certificates today.
Describing the distribution of the certificate as part of the fulfilment of the election promise made to the farmers by the Congress, he assured the farmers that the slight delay in the matter was the result not of funds paucity but the fact that the procedure for identification and verification of the eligible farmers, along with their loan amount, was taking some time.
However, he made it clear that he was totally committed to implementing the promise of debt waiver, which he had made ahead of the Assembly elections after hearing of farmer suicides in every place he visited.
The number of suicides had come down since the Congress took over, said the Chief Minister, adding there had been marked improvement in the situation, of which his government will give details in the forthcoming budget session of the Vidhan Sabha.
Assailing the Akalis for spreading brazen lies and indulging in blatantly false propaganda against his government on the issue of tubewell meters, the he ruled out any proposal to withdraw free power for farmers. His government had only provided meters to 900 of the 13.5 lakh tubewells in the state as part of a research project aimed at saving ground water while ensuring that the farmers also get an incentive in the form of cash savings for their personal use.
He further explained this by pointing out that if a farmer is given Rs 10,000 against his tubewell power consumption and ends up spending Rs 7000 then not only will the remaining Rs 3000 go into his pocket but he will also contribute to saving the declining ground water level in the state.
The Akalis were trying to create misconceptions in the mind of the people by making false allegations against the Congress over the issue, said Amarinder asserting that there was no question of anyone making money from these meters.
It was the responsibility of our generation to save water for the future generations, said the Chief Minister, warning that Punjab could well end up as a desert unless immediate corrective measures are taken to check the decline in water levels. He cited the example of Patiala where the water level had receded from 70 feet to 700 feet in last 30 years.
He came out with a categorical assurance that the debt waiver promise would be implemented in toto, with loans from other banks to be addressed after the completion of the current phase which covers cooperative bank loans of the small and marginal farmers.
In the third stage, another 50,000 farmers will get their debt waiver certificates in the Majha area, said the Chief Minister, making it clear that the process was unstoppable. Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) president and Gurdaspur MP Sunil Jakhar challenged the SAD to break ties with BJP for failing to give any package to Punjab, just as TDP had done.