The Punjab government today decided form a group of experts to assess and analyse the quantum of agriculture debt in the state, and propose means to waiver it in a time-bound manner. The decision seeks to implement the Congress party’s pre-poll promise to waive off all farm loans in Punjab. The decision was taken in the first cabinet meeting chaired by Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh here, said an official spokesman. He said the members of the group will be nominated by the Chief Minister and the Agriculture Department will ensure that it submits its report within 60 days. It was also decided that a Cabinet Sub-Committee headed by the Chief Minister will be constituted to finalise the proposal to waive off agricultural loans, the spokesman said.
The state ministers for finance, agriculture, irrigation and power will be members of the sub-committee, which will be assisted by Chief Principal Secretary to Chief Minister , Chief Secretary, Principal Secretary Finance and the Financial Commissioner Development, he said. “The cabinet decided to continue free power to farmers and also omit the existing section 67 (A) of the Punjab Cooperative Societies Act, 1961, for which the Department of Cooperation would get an ordinance issued at the earliest,” he said.
“A new legislation will be brought in to prohibit sale and ‘kurki’ of a farmer’s land by the lending agencies. The Agriculture Department will put up the draft Bill for consideration the next meeting,” the spokesman said. Other important decisions taken for the promotion of agriculture, include establishment of the Punjab State Agricultural Insurance Corporation and vigorous pursuance of the Agricultural Sustainability Programme, he said. Besides, the cabinet has decided on defraying farmers’ subsidy through direct bank transfers, strengthening and re-organising the Punjab Farmers Commission, and setting up of an Agricultural Production Board, the spokesman said.
In an effort to revive the state’s industries, the cabinet has decided on a new Industrial Policy and that no ‘No Objection Certificate’ and Change of Land Use would be required for new electric connection and for enhancement of power load, he said. The cabinet has also decided to finish the condition of procuring CLUs for duly notified Industrial Zones, the spokesman said. It was decided that Information Collection Centres at inter-state borders would be fully mechanised with no manual interjections at all. This task would be completed in six months, he added.