Punjab CM announces farm loan waiver, 8.75 lakh farmers to benefit

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New Delhi: The Punjab government on Monday said it will waive off crop loans of up to Rs2 lakh taken by small and marginal farmers, a move it said will benefit more than a million farmers. The decision follows an election pledge made by the Congress party to farmers, and similar announcements made by the governments of Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra.

“The initiative would provide double the relief announced by the states of Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra,” chief minister Amarinder Singh told the state assembly.

According to an official statement from the chief minister’s office, the government will take overall outstanding institutional crop loans of households where a farmer has committed suicide.

The government also said it will raise the compensation to these families from Rs3 lakh to Rs5 lakh. For marginal farmers, the state government will provide a flat relief of Rs2 lakh irrespective of their loan amount, the official statement added.

For non-institutional loans, the government said it has set up a cabinet sub-committee to suggest ways to provide relief to farmers after reviewing the Punjab Settlement of Agriculture Indebtedness Act.

The decision to write off loans of small and marginal farmers holding up to five acres of land is based on an interim report of a committee headed by T. Haque, former head of the commission for agricultural costs and prices.

Amid rising demand for loan waivers in several states, the latest announcement in Punjab follows a Rs36,359 crore farm loan waiver programme announced by the Uttar Pradesh government in April, and Rs30,000 crore waiver announced by Maharashtra in June following massive protests by farmers. Farmers in states like Haryana and Madhya Pradesh are also demanding loan waivers and implementation of the recommendations of the M.S. Swaminathan commission for fixing crop support prices at 50% over the cost of production.

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