CHANDIGARH: The Congress Government in Punjab has played a `cruel joke’ on the farmers of the
state as the number of farmers suicides have been increasing in the state in the last two years. 919 farmers have committed suicide. On an average one farmers in committing suicide every day.
There are nearly 10.5 lakh farmers' families and 20 lakh people engaged in the avocation of agriculture in Punjab who are living under a huge debt trap of Rs 80,000 crore raised from private money lenders and banks.
As per the latest agriculture census, the average landholding in Punjab is 3.6 hectares, but the state
the government decided to waive loans up to Rs 2 lakh for only small and marginal farmers, who own up to two hectares of land.
The Congress, in its election manifesto, had promised to waive off all farm loans but it scaled down the eligibility criteria when it came to power.
The fund-starved Punjab Congress government in the last two years has provided debt relief of Rs 4736 crore to 5.83 lakh small and marginal farmers in the state.
The fourth phase of the scheme initiated on March 8 from Moga had also brought 2.85 Lakh landless labourers under the ambit of the scheme, providing them relief to the tune of Rs 520 Crore.
For opposition Shiromani Akali Dal, the loan waiver scheme was a cruel joke as those having raised loans above Rs 2 lakh were not covered under the scheme.
"You must have seen the video of Capt Amarinder Singh promising to waive off loans of Rs 90,000 crore including loans taken from nationalized and cooperative banks as also private money lenders. The Congress Government has come out with crop loan waiver which has exacerbated the rate of suicides in Punjab which have crossed the 900 mark in two years of Congress rule. After befooling the farmers the Congress is now promising khet mazdoor that their loans will also be waived off. This is a case of pure
cheating,’’ says SAD President Sukhbir Singh Badal.
While reassuring the farming community of hike in loan waiver once the fiscal situation in the state improves, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh has lambasted the Akalis for criticising his
government’s farm debt waiver scheme while failing to do anything for farmers themselves. Underscoring his government’s commitment to farmers’ welfare, he said," as and when the financial position improves further, the state government would extend the benefit of this scheme especially to critical cases. We are doing our best to provide assistance but unless the Central Government implements the Swaminathan Commission Report in full, the woes of the farming community could not be alleviated."