Aurangabad: The farmers' steering committee has chose to burn copies of the June 14 government resolution on Wednesday, in protest against the government's alleged failure to keep its promise on farm loan waiver.
Highlighting that Punjab is the most debt-ridden state in the country, the government allocated Rs 1,500 crore for waiving loan of upto Rs 2 lakh of a total of 8.75 lakh for small and marginal farmers. This move made at least 35 lakh more farmers eligible, bringing the total number up to 65 lakh, according to Chandrakant Patil, revenue minister.
"Roughly it translates into something like 13 lakh farmers, who are under debt". The government has announced waiver of "crop loan" from banks but is silent on loan from "arhtiya" (commission agents) at the moment. "But as a first step, it is a welcome approach", said Sukhpal Singh, head of the department of economics and sociology at Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana. The farmers' organisations welcomed the state's decision but said that the government is cheating the farmers as it has reneged on its stand of loan waiver for all.
Singh reasserted his government's commitment to provide free power to farmers and appealed to all big and well-to-do farmers to voluntarily surrender their power subsidies so that small and marginal farmers could have access to power they otherwise could not afford.
He said the farmers may be sitting in Punjab, Maharashtra or Tamil Nadu, but the problems being faced by them were the same and the issue of farm debt was nationwide.
"Captain had promised to waive all kinds of farming related debt".
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While Andhra Pradesh and Telangana had announced farm loan waivers in 2014, Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra have followed in their footsteps recently.
He said higher production of foodgrains should translate into prosperity for farmers and higher income for them.
Opposition parties protest, demand complete loan waiver.
Making it clear that his government stood by its commitment to waive crop loans to farmers, Singh said his government had also chose to assume outstanding crop loans from institutional sources of all families of farmers who have committed suicide. "Out of those, 10,25000 families will get direct benefit", he added.
Seven farmer unions will be meeting on June 30 at Bathinda to discuss the crop loan waiver issue so as to decide the next course of action.The other unions who will be part of the June 30 meeting will be BKU (Dakaunda), BKU (Ekta), Pendu Khet Mazdoor union, Punjab Kisan Union and a few others.
One of the core committee members, Ajit Navale, called it as government's loan waiver a "farce".
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