The Punjab government, led by Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh, has decided to introduce a system of self-declaration on land holdings by the beneficiaries of the farm debt waiver scheme to ensure that only deserving and eligible farmers get the benefit of the scheme.It has also decided to exclude government employees and retired pensioners who pay income tax from the scheme to ensure that the poorest of the poor get its benefit. A notification to this effect will be issued soon, it was decided at a meeting chaired by the Chief Minister.Such self-declaration should relate to the farmers’ land holdings in villages in Punjab as well as in other states, said the chief minister, pointing out that data from the secretaries of the cooperative societies could not alone be relied upon as they were all appointed by the Akalis during their regime.Self-declarations, followed by random checks, would ensure fool-proof mechanism to plug any loopholes in the farm debt waiver scheme, said Captain Amarinder, adding that it would also help prevent the Akali wrongdoings from adversely impacting the farm debt waiver scheme. These measures would help address the various concerns of the MLAs, he said, responding to the issues raised by the elected representatives regarding the implementation of the loan waiver scheme.
Chief Principal Secretary to CM Suresh Kumar explained to the MLAs how the phased implementation of the scheme would work. Waiver of loans for farmers who committed suicide would be taken up after the committee set up by the Vidhan Sabha in this regard submits its report, he added.
The MLA pointed out that there were many big farmers who had transferred a small part of their big land holding to their son/sons to take benefit of the cooperative loans, resulting in waiver of their loans despite their huge land holdings.Some big farmers with land in Rajasthan but holdings less than 2.5 acres in Bathinda had been included in the debt waiver, leading to resentment, they said, suggesting that the government take affidavits about the land holdings before finalising beneficiary lists.In fact, they said, some NRIs had also ended up getting the benefit of loan waiver, which should have been limited to the deserving small and marginal farmers. There was a suggestion for issuance of waiver certificates district wise, with proper checking of revenue records to ensure that the real beneficiaries get the waiver.
The Chief Minister assured the MLAs that all steps would be taken by the government to prevent misuse of the waiver benefit and ensure that no undeserving farmer is able to take its advantage.Besides Suresh Kumar, those present at the meeting included Rural Development Minister Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa, PPCC President Sunil Jakhar, Media Advisor to CM Raveen Thukral, Punjab Mandi Board Chairman Lal Singh, along with MLAs Amarinder Singh Raja Warring, Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa, Kuljit Singh Nagra, Sukhbinder Singh Sarkaria, Kushaldeep Singh Dhillon, Sangat Singh Gilzian and OP Soni. Several senior officers, including Chief Secretary Karan Avtar Singh, Principal Secretary to CM Tejveer Singh, Additional Chief Secretary Housing and Revenue, Vini Mahajan, Additional Chief Secretary Cooperative, DP Reddy and Additional Chief Secretary Development Viswajeet Khanna, were also present.