Punjab’s loan waiver scheme has been facing constant resentment from farmers in the state especially from the ones who are marginal and debt-ridden. And now it seems, the issue has acquired a political color. This after the Bharti Kisan Union (Ugrahan) alleged that influential persons are being included on priority in the beneficiary list while many marginal farmers are being left out.
According to The Indian Express, the government wrote off Rs 1.94 lakh that Gursewak Singh, Congress Block President in Nihal Singh Wala. owed to a cooperative society. His mother Gurdial Kaur’s Rs 2 lakh loan from the same cooperative was also written off. “Congress leaders are on the first list and others are being told to wait. They are landlords, with a lot of family land,” said Amarjeet Singh, president of the BKU (Ugrahan) local unit. “If the government can afford it, it can waive their loans, but the genuinely poor farmers should have been included first.”
Meanwhile, Gursewak Singh stressed his and his mother’s eligibility as individuals. “I own 2 acres land and my mother too owns 2 acres, and the waiver is for land held by farmers individually, not collectively,” he said. “I am being targeted because I am in politics. In fact, I am very serious about getting others too included in the list. And many more lists are still to come.”
But, BKU has slammed the government for their biased approach towards the marginal farmers. “While these influential people have been included in the very first list, genuine marginal farmers have been told to wait for later lists,” said Sukhdev Singh, BKU (Ugrahan) general secretary, who hails from Moga.
However, many recent cases did throw the light on Congress government’s scheme that excludes most small farmers. As per The Indian Express, 53-year-old Rachpal Singh from Umarpur Kalan village in Nurmahal tehsil of Jalandhar district-owned four acres, which should ordinarily have made him a “small farmer” — covering those owning between 2.5 and five acres of land — eligible for relief on his Rs 3-lakh loan taken from the Shadipur primary agricultural cooperative society (PACS). But, he was told that he isn’t eligible for the waiver. The reason that was said was the Punjab government restricting its waiver to “small farmers” only in case of their outstanding loan amount itself not exceeding Rs 2 lakh. This now clearly forms a different scenario as compared to the original scheme of loan waiver where Punjab government announced its intention to waive crop loans of all small and marginal farmers up to a limit of Rs 2 lakh each.