With the Congress government facing flak over Punjab Agriculture Development Bank (PADB) reported move to auction the land of defaulter farmers in order to recover its dues, the state government on Thursday denied any such move.

The cooperation minister, Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa clarified that there is no move or intention on the part of the Punjab State Agriculture Cooperative Bank (PADB) to sell the land of the farmers to recover its dues.

In a Press statement today, the minister said that even during the government of Shiromani Akali Dal who claims to be the champion of the farmers’ cause and are shedding crocodile tears just for political mileage, legal notices to sell land and arbitration proceedings were initiated against defaulters.

As on 31 January 2016, before the Amarinder Singh is government took over in March 2017, sale action was already underway against 30794 defaulter farmers, the minister said.

He said arbitration proceedings to secure arrest warrants of defaulters were initiated against 41745 defaulter farmers of all the 89 PADBs in of Punjab.
Randhawa further added that out of 23 defaulter farmers whose land was auctioned and purchased by the PADBs themselves and stills stands in the name of PADBs, in 20 cases it was auctioned during the Akali regimes. Land of not a single farmer has been sold by this bank since March 2017, he said.

Randhawa said that initiating legal action against the defaulters is a routine banking practice across all the banks and this bank has also been following it and sending notices to defaulters for recovery does not mean that bank eventually intends to sell their land.

He further said that the bank primarily effects recovery by way of persuasion and never harasses a farmer in distress. But there are many wilful defaulters who in spite of various efforts and ample time being given to them, have not bothered to repay their loan instalments even when they have the capacity to repay.

It is evident from the fact that the bank had an overdue amount of Rs 1363.87 Crore towards 71432 farmers as on 1 February 2018 and out of these, the bank has effected recovery of Rs 194.74 Crore from 16469 farmers till 30 June 2018 and has not sold the land of even a single farmer.

He said that the present government is committed to watch the interests of marginal and small farmers but legal action as per law will definitely be taken against the wilful, big and influential farmers who do not repay their loans in spite of having the capacity to repay.