CHANDIGARH: Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) president Sukhbir Singh Badal today demanded the central government come out with a loan waiver for Punjab farmers who were forced into indebtedness in the service of the nation and were the third most indebted agriculturists in the country.
The SAD President had asked a question in parliament yesterday requesting minister of state for finance to provide details of the average indebtedness of farmers in different States of the country, whether any study had been conducted to assess the level of indebtedness in the last two years and whether the union government had any plan to waive of debts of farmers in Punjab.
The minister of state for finance Dr Bhagwat Karad submitted details of indebtedness of farmers across the country while citing the Situation Assessment of Agricultural Households and Livestock Holdings of Households in Rural India, 2019. The report states farmers in Punjab are the third most indebtedness cultivators in the country with an average loan of Rs 2.03 lakh and are only surpassed by farmers of Kerala who have an average loan of Rs 2.42 lakh and those of Andhra Pradesh with an average loan of Rs 2.45 lakh. Farmers of neighbouring Haryana have an average loan of Rs 1.82 lakh. The national indebtedness figure is Rs 74, 000 per farmer.
Mr Sukhbir Badal said despite the level of indebtedness in Punjab, the union government had stated in parliament that it did not have any proposal to waive of loans of Punjab farmers. “This is a disservice to the hard working farmers of Punjab who have got indebted while providing food grains to the national food basket. In the process the farmers have depleted their ground water reserves and now face a bleak future. They should be encouraged to diversify from the wheat-paddy cycle by waiving off their loans besides giving them appropriate incentives”.