CHANDIGARH: Some 2.85 lakh people, 70 per cent of them Dalits, were given a major relief when the Punjab Cabinet gave in-principle approval to a debt relief scheme for farm labourers and landless farming members of Primary Cooperative Agriculture Service Societies (PACS) here on Saturday evening.
The scheme waives off H520.55 crore, including principal amount of H388.55 crore, Rs 78 crore as interest at 7 per cent till March 31, 2017, besides H54 crores on account of interest at 7 per cent with effect from April 1, 2017 to March 31, 2019, which were outstanding as on March 31, 2019.
The government had during the recent Budget session of Vidhan Sabha announced a budgetary allocation to implement this scheme. Chief Minister Amarinder Singh had also assured that as the state’s financial condition improves, he will bring landless farmers and farm labourers into the ambit of the debt relief scheme.
The beneficiaries would be individual farm labourers and landless farming members of PACS who have been availing advances from district cooperatives and boards. The amount eligible for debt relief would comprise the outstanding principal amount up to a limit of H25,000 as on March 31, 2017 and simple interest at 7 per cent per annum.
The debt relief shall not be available to those members who are either employees, government pensioners, workers in semi-government institutions, PSU’s of any State or Central Government or an income tax payee. If an individual has more than one account, the relief would be given against one account only, which has higher outstanding amount subject to the maximum of H25,000 as principal. The accounts of the beneficiaries would be Aadhar-seeded to avoid duplication.
The move comes as an extension of the Debt Relief Scheme of October 2017 for small and marginal farmers with loans up to H2 lakh. Under the scheme, till date, the government has waived off loans of Rs 5.47 lakhs small and marginal farmers.