Having Made several promises in its election manifesto to tackle the huge debt of Punjab’s farmers, the Congress government has been taking several steps to fulfill them. A meeting of agriculture department officials and Cabinet ministers will be held on July 25 to discuss whether a new/amended law in the Vidhan Sabha in connection with the mounting debt on farmers is needed.
Cabinet ministers, including Punjab’s Finance Minister, Manpreet Badal, Local Bodies Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu, Punjab Rural Development and Panchayat Minister, Tripat Rajinder Singh Bajwa, chairmen of Farmers Commission (Punjab), and Punjab Mandi Board will participate.
Power and Irrigation Minister Rana Gurjit Singh, PPCC chief Sunil Jakhar and Guru Har Sahaye MLA, Rana Gurmeet Sodhi are special invitees to the meeting. The main subject will be how to deal with the increasing debt on Punjab’s farmers. “We will discuss about how farmers can be saved from being burdened by debt as well the debt being provided by the private finance sources, which are charging huge rate of interest and bringing farmers under huge burden of debt,” said a senior officer with the Punjab agriculture department, adding that non-institutional sources are not adopting the transparent system while providing debt to farmers and exploiting them under their unjustified terms and conditions.
After coming to power, the Congress government in Punjab has appointed an expert panel under Dr T Haque to give a report on farmers’ debt, its solution and crop price etc. Apart from this, the government had announced Rs 1500 crore in the state budget this year towards loan waiver and also promised to pay Rs 9,500 to 9,600 crore loan of farmers in the next five years.