The Punjab government’s farm debt waiver scheme took another leap on Thursday, with 73,748 farmers from six districts getting debt relief certificates worth Rs. Rs.485.69 crore at a major event here.Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal handed over debt waiver certificates to 14 farmers, as a token gesture, in the presence of his cabinet colleagues, Rural Development and Panchayats Minister Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa, PWD Minister Razia Sultana and Forests and Welfare Minister Sadhu Singh Dharamsot.Gurdaspur MP and PPCC president Sunil Jakhar, former Minister of State for External Affairs Preneet Kaur and former Chief Minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal were also present at the event, which Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh was forced to give a miss due to a last-minute glitch in his chopper.Following the change in plan, the Chief Minister tweeted his regrets at not being personally present on the occasion, and reiterated his personal commitment to upholding the interests of the farming community.While Bajwa announced a grant of Rs 25 lakh for the upgradation of Rampura Sports Stadium, Manpreet said the Chief Minister had personally directed him to examine all the demands raised by local MLA Vijay Inder Singla, including that for a Trauma Centre at Bhawanigarh Hospital and a Medical College for Sangrur.Farmers from the districts of Sangrur, Barnala, Patiala, Fatehgarh Sahib, SAS Nagar and Rupnagar were the beneficiaries in this phase of the implementation of the farm debt waiver scheme.The Finance Minister thanked Captain Amarinder Singh for the historic step of waiving off loan of small and marginal farmers up to Rs 2 lakh, which was the highest in the country despite state’s poor financial health.Addressing the gathering, Manpreet Singh Badal lashed out at the Akali leadership for trying to tarnish the image of the Congress government through false propaganda after failing to do anything for the farmers during their 10-year rule.Razia Sultana and Dharamsot were also unequivocal in their criticism of the Akalis, accusing them of indulging in mudslinging to cover their own follies. The ministers flayed the Akalis for destroying the state by plundering its wealth and assets.
Jakhar also came down heavily on the Akalis for destroying the state to promote their vested interests. The hue and cry over the debt waiver scheme was being raised only by influential defaulters, most of whom belonged to the SAD, he said, urging the Chief Minister not to consider their cases under this scheme, but instead to initiate ‘kurki’ proceedings against them, as they were willful defaulters.Preneet assured the gathering of the government’s total commitment to the holistic development of the state. She pointed out that it was Captain Amarinder Singh’s Government which had constituted a committee of MLAs to formulate a policy for the welfare of farmers. Further, the State Government had also released Rs.2000 crore for the repair, renovation and strengthening of link roads in the state, which was another step to facilitate rural population in terms of strengthening the mandi infrastructure, she added.Bhattal lambasted the erstwhile previous Akali Government for deliberately not implementing the debt waived off by the then Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh.Prominent amongst others who attended the function were Chairman Punjab Mandi Board Lal Singh, MLAs Madan Lal Jalalpur, Kuljit Singh Nagra, Randeep Singh Nabha, Balbir Singh Sidhu, Dalbir Singh Goldy, Surjit Singh Dhiman, Hardyal Singh Kamboj, Nirmal Singh Shutrana, Rajinder Singh Samana, Gurpreet Singh GP besides former Minister Jagmohan Singh Kang and ex-MLAs Mohammad Sadiq, Dhanwant Singh Dhuri and Harchand Kaur Ghanauri.The farmers who received their certificates from the finance minister were identified as Rajinder Singh from Fatehgarh Sahib, Lal Singh, Darshan Singh, Sukhwinder Singh, Gurtej Singh and Nachattar Singh from Sangrur district, Pritpal Singh and Harpreet Singh from Barnala, Tarlochan Singh and Satgur Singh from Patiala, Amar Singh and Kesar Singh from SAS Nagar, Prem Singh and Randhir Singh from Roop Nagar.