The Punjab government has decided to introduce a system of self-declaration on land holdings by the beneficiaries of the farm debt waiver scheme on Monday. The decision in this regard was taken to ensure that only deserving and eligible farmers get the benefit of the scheme.
The decision was also taken to exclude government employees and retired pensioners who pay income tax from the scheme to ensure that the poorest of the poor get its benefit. A notification to this effect will be issued soon as it was decided at a meeting chaired by the Chief Minister (CM) Amarinder Singh. Such self-declaration should relate to the farmers’ land holdings in villages in Punjab and other states as well, said the CM, pointing out that data from the secretaries of the co-operative societies could not alone be relied upon as they were all appointed by the Akalis during their regime.
The CM said, self-declarations, followed by random checks, would ensure a fool-proof mechanism to plug any loopholes in the farm debt waiver scheme. He added that it would also help prevent the Akali wrongdoings from adversely impacting the farm debt waiver scheme. These measures would help address the various concerns of the legislators, he said, responding to the issues raised by the elected representatives regarding the implementation of the loan waiver scheme.
Chief Principal Secretary to CM Suresh Kumar explained to the legislators how the phased implementation of the scheme would work. Waiver of loans for farmers who committed suicide would be taken up after the committee set up by the Assembly in this regard submits its report, he added.
The legislators pointed out that there were many big farmers who had transferred a small part of their big land holding to their kin to take benefit of the co-operative loans, resulting in waiver of their loans despite their huge land holdings.
The legislators said, some big farmers with land in Rajasthan, but holdings less than 2.5 acres in Bathinda had been included in the debt waiver. The legislators suggested that the government take affidavits about the land holdings before finalising beneficiary lists. They said, some NRIs (Non-Resident Indians) had also ended up getting the benefit of loan waiver, which should have been limited to the deserving small and marginal farmers.
Meanwhile, the CM assured the legislators that all steps would be taken by the government to prevent misuse of the waiver benefit and ensure that no undeserving farmer is able to take its advantage.