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UP farm-loan waiver: Punjab farmer leaders unimpressed

Ranjeet Jamwal | Chandigarh |


A day after Uttar Pradesh (UP) Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath's decided to waive off farm loans worth Rs.36,359-crore, farmer leaders in Punjab are unimpressed with the decision as they say it will hardly be any use if the Captain Amarinder Singh government would go for similar loan waiver in the state.

As the  UP government scheme will benefit all small and marginalised farmers who took crop loans of up to Rs.1 lakh until March 31, 2016, farmer leaders said most farmers will remain outside the purview if similar scheme is brought out by the Congress government in Punjab.

The UP government scheme covers loans taken up to 31 March 2016, but farmers take loans for their crops every six months. So even after this date, farmers have taken loans twice. So what's the use of this loan-waiver," Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) chief Balbir Singh Rajewal told The Statesman.

He said the government should not differentiate between small or big farmers while announcing a loan waiver as farmers in general are in trouble due to diminishing returns and escalating costs.

'We will wait for the Punjab government to waive off all farmer loans by June or we
will launch an agitation for the same," Rajewal said. Another farmer leader Sukhdev Singh Kokrikalan, who heads BKU (Ekta), said Punjab farmers are hoping for a better loan-waiver than the one announced by Uttar Pradesh.

"The Punjab government should waive off all type of farmer loans including the ones taken from money lenders," he added.

The Punjab Congress manifesto had pledged waiver of debt of farmers and farm labourers. In its first meeting on March 18, the state Cabinet led by chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh decided that a group of experts would assess the agricultural debt and propose ways to end the debt in a time-bound manner.

The report of the group is to be submitted within 60 days after its formation. Sources said whereas loans of around Rs.9,500 crore availed by farmers from cooperative banks could be taken over by the state government, the real challenge would be dealing with loans taken from nationalized banks.

Loans from national banks form 86 per cent of the total farm loans which are estimated to be close to Rs.80,000 crore in Punjab.