CHANDIGARH: The Punjab Cabinet on Saturday gave in-principle approval to a debt relief scheme for farm labourers and landless farming members of Primary Cooperative Agriculture Service Societies (PACS), to provide a major relief to 2.85 lakh people. Out of the total beneficiaries, around 70 per cent are Dalits.
The scheme is likely to benefit the farm labourers and landless farmers of PACS to the tune of Rs 520.55 crores. The waiver includes the principal amounts of Rs 388.55 crore, Rs 78 crores as interest at 7 per cent till March 31, 2017, besides another Rs 54 crores on account of interest at the same rate with effect from April 1, 2017 to March 31, 2019 as outstanding on March 31, 2019.
It may be recalled that the government, in the recent Budget Session, had announced a budgetary allocation to implement this scheme. Chief Minister Amarinder Singh himself had given an assurance earlier 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 amount eligible for debt relief shall comprise the outstanding principal amount up to a limit of Rs 25000 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, pensioners of Government, semi-government, Public Sector Undertaking of any State or Central Government or income taxpayers.
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 Rs 2 lakhs. Under the scheme, till date, the government has waived off loans of Rs 5.47 lakhs small and marginal farmers to the extent of approximately Rs 4600 crores.