Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh has urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to consider agriculture loan waiver at the national level on priority as a one-time solution to help the distressed farmers.
In two separate letters, the Chief Minister stressed that a one-time agriculture debt waiver for farmers at the national level was essential, while calling for modifications in the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojna (PMFBY) to make the pro-farmer initiative more effective in transforming the rural economy.
In his letter, Amarinder Singh said the relief given by the Punjab government from its limited resources was not adequate and needed to be supplemented by the Central government, a government spokesperson told IANS.
The Chief Minister pointed out that this farmer-friendly initiative would not only contribute to a large extent in reducing the distress but would also help putting agriculture sector on a path of high growth trajectory and development with an assurance and hope of better quality living for farmers.
The central government should bite the bullet once and for all, Amarinder Singh said, adding that it was widely acknowledged that several farmers in the country were facing severe debt stress and, as a result, some committed suicide.
He emphasized 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.
The state government alone has provided a debt relief of Rs 2 lakh to the marginal farmers who had availed institutional loans 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 get the entitled relief in the near future.
While the recent initiatives of the central government, including financial assistance to the farmers, were praiseworthy, they may not be adequate to mitigate the economic distress on account of high indebtedness of the farmers in Punjab, Amarinder Singh said.
In another letter, he urged Modi to advise the Union Agriculture Ministry to effect suitable modifications in PMFBY.
Pointing out that 98 per cent of cultivated area in Punjab was under assured irrigation, the Chief Minister said despite repeated natural calamities, the state had been successful in saving and managing its crops, though at a huge cost, some of which was borne by the farmers.
Punjab had never notified a calamity year in the past 15 years, he added.