Shiromani Akali Dal MP from Anandpur Sahib Prof. Prem Singh Chandumajra has demanded one-time settlement to provide relief to the farmers from institutional loans on the pattern of the scheme applicable in the trade and industrial sector.Raising this sensitive issue in the Lok Sabha, he said if the government could declare Rs 8 lakh crore loan extended by the banks to trade and industrial houses as non-performing asset, there was no reason to punish the farmers whose total loans are just a fragment of this huge amount that the banks have virtually written off. It was ironic that while the government was justifying this non-recovery on the logic of economic development, the contribution of the farm sector to the economy was being ignored.
The Akali leader proposed that the government should set up a panel to study this entire gamut of NPA as most of these loans were result of collaborative default. The government must take action against the bank officials for this criminal collaboration with the big sharks. The NPA should be treated as criminal offence.Prof. Chandumajra pointed out that the previous UPA government gave relief to the farmers by way of loan waivers but that was only the defaulting farmers. It was due to this reason that the Punjab farmers did not benefit from this largesse as the problem here was not that of default. The farmers in the state were rather paying the cost for repaying the loans even by taking up another loan.He also demanded that recovery of the loans by the banks should not be sourced out to other agencies as it leads to the harassment of farmers and forced recovery. The fear of forced recovery could the farmers to the extreme of committing suicide.
He also pressed for long term policy to deal with the crisis faced by the farmers and the farm sector.Participating in the debate on Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY), Prof. Chandumjara demanded that Punjab should be treated at par with the hilly states as it is comprising of 6 semi-hilly and 6 border districts. The centre bears 90 per cent share in road projects of hilly states but 60 per cent in other states.He said the problem was that only new roads could be constructed under this scheme, but Punjab already had a massive network of link roads up to every nook and corner of the state. Punjab needed funds to maintain and strengthen the road network which could not be done because of faulty guidelines. So, guidelines of the scheme should be amended in such a way that every state can get benefit of the scheme, he added.Prof. Chandumajra proposed that 10 meter width condition of the roads should be reduced to the 8 meters as the land cost in Punjab was much higher and it was not easily available. Moreover, embankments of canals and drains in the state should be converted into roads.