Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Wednesday urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to consider agriculture loan waiver at national level on priority as a one-time solution to help the distressed farmers.

In a letter to the PM, underlining the need to safeguard the interests of Punjab’s farmers, the CM stressed that a one-time agriculture debt waiver for farmers at the national level was essential.

The relief given by the Punjab government from its limited resources was not adequate and needed to be supplemented by the Union government, he said in his letter seeking the loan waiver on a national level.

He pointed out that this farmer friendly initiative would not only contribute to a large extent in reducing the distress but would also help in putting agriculture sector on a path of high growth trajectory and development with an assurance and hope of better quality living for the farmers of the country.

The Union government should bite the bullet once and for all, he said, adding that it was widely acknowledged that most of these ‘Anndattas’ of the country were facing severe debt stress, as a result of which some of them had even taken the extreme step of ending their lives by committing suicides.

He emphasised the need to rectify the situation, not with slow and small measures but with carefully thought-out steps to mitigate their distress and improve their living conditions.

Amarinder apprised Modi that the state government alone provided a debt relief of Rs 2 lakh to all the marginal farmers who had availed institutional loan and the small farmers with loans up to Rs 2 lakh. As many as 5.52 lakh farmers have been provided a debt relief of Rs 4,468 crore so far, and the remaining would be provided the entitled relief under the scheme in the near future.

While the recent initiatives of the central government, including financial assistance under PM-Kisan and pension to the farmers, were praiseworthy, they may not be adequate to mitigate the prevailing economic distress on account of high indebtedness of the Punjab farmer, he added, lamenting that the Centre’s response to their repeated request for one-time national debt waiver for farmers had not been encouraging.

With its farm loan waiver scheme for small and marginal farmers, Punjab government has waived off farm debts upto Rs 2 lakh each to 5.8 lakh farmers till 15 March 2019. This translates into total debt relief of Rs 4678 Crore. In addition, the state government has expanded the cover of the scheme to cover 2.85 lakh farm labourers and landless farming members of cooperative societies, to the tune of Rs 520 Crore.

The CM maintains that a lot more needs to the done for farmers and the Central government needs to step in with a national debt waiver scheme to help out the beleaguered farming community around the country.