Despite the state government’s repeated claims on farm debt waiver, the debt-ridden farmers have continued to commit suicides in Punjab.
Recent is the case of deaths of four farmers in Bathinda district allegedly committing suicide due to farm debts within a duration of 24 hours.
Police sources in Bathinda said that three out of four farmers consumed poison while one hanged himself apparently fearing debts of Rs three Lakh to Rs six Lakh. In Sangrur also, one debt-ridden farmer has committed suicide on Monday.
On the other hand, the leaders of opposition parties have accused the state government for making false claims on debt waiver.
They have criticised the Congress led state government for leaving no chance to the famers who have a debt of over Rs two Lakh.
Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) spokesperson Dr Daljeet Cheema told The Statesman that state government has promised to waive off loan up to just Rs two Lakh while those having more loan are feeling cheated and hopeless.
“A farmer having even a one rupee more than Rs two Lakh cannot get a debt relief as per state government’s notification on debt waiver. Now, the farmers having loan more than two Lakh are hopeless and living under tremendous pressure. The ruling government has betrayed the hopes of debt ridden farmers. It had promised a complete loan waiver within 100 days after attaining power, but reality is far different”, he said.
Similarly, former SAD minister Bikram Singh Majithia said in a statement that fake loan waiver scheme was initiated by the Congress government.
“Bathinda and Sangrur districts have witnessed an increase in suicides in the last few months with total suicides in one year tenure of the Congress going up to 450”, he added.
Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Aman Arora said the incidents of debt ridden farmers committing suicides were unfortunate in the state.
He also claimed that nearly 450 debt-ridden farmers have committed suicide since the present Congress government came to power in March, 2017.
“The incidents of farmer suicides are increasing day by day. The state government should re-think about its strategy on debt relief scheme”, he said.
State government’s crop loan waiver scheme, based on the recommendations of an expert group headed by eminent economist Dr T Haque, is aimed to benefit nearly 10.25 Lakh farmers across the state till 31 October, 2018.
“We have been holding meetings with State Level Bankers’ Committee to procure data of such banks to ascertain the eligibility of their farmers”, said an official of Finance Department requesting anonymity.
The Punjab government has identified 3.26 Lakh marginal farmers for issuance of debt relief farmers during the month of May.
The Chief Minister Amarinder Singh had in June, 2017 announced waiver of the entire crop loans (up to Rs two Lakh) of all small and marginal farmers (up to five acres) and a relief of Rs two Lakh to the remaining marginal farmers irrespective of the amount of loan.