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Loan waiver: Punjab farmer union begins 5-day protest

Statesman News Service | Chandigarh |

Even as Punjab Chief Minister, Amarinder Singh on Saturday appealed farmer unions to shun the path of agitation as his government could not afford total farm loan waiver, a farmer union on Monday began a five-day protest in 13 districts to press for total waiver of farm loans.

The Bharti Kisan Union (Ekta-Ugrahan) is holding the protest in Sangrur, Patiala, Mansa, Barnala, Bathinda, Moga, Faridkot, Muktsar, Fazilka, Ferozepur, Amritsar, Gurdaspur and Ludhiana. At most places, the protests are being held in front of the concerned deputy commissioner’s office.

The general secretary of the union, Sukhdev Singh KokriKalan, said even as 17,000 farmers have committed suicide in Punjab due to debt, the state government is not keeping its promise for a total farm loan waiver.

“When it comes to bailing farmers out, the government is citing empty coffers but a few days back the same Amarinder Singh government has given Rs 750 Crore as three month power subsidy to the industrialists . In a year, this subsidy will be close to Rs 3,000 Crore. So how is the government citing lack of funds for farm loan waiver ? ,” he said.

The farmer leader said they are also they are also demanding the NarendraModi government to provide Rs 50,000 Crore for financing total farm loan waiver as promised by the ruling Congress in the run up to Assembly elections.

The Congress government on 7 January launched its debt waiver scheme for small and marginal farmers who have taken loans of less than Rs Two lakh but farmer unions have been holding protests for total loan waiver.

But the CM maintains that despite the severe financial crunch faced by the state government, Punjab had waived off more debts of its farmers than the other states and it was not possible, at present, to extend the debt waiver scheme to more farmers or to waive off more than Rs Two lakh.

He had cited the financial problems inherited from the previous Parkash Singh Badal government and lack of support on the issue from the Central government for in the inability to provide total farm loan waiver.