Punjab CM Amarinder urges PM to waive farm debt

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Punjab, June 14: Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Wednesday welcomed the Centre's decision to lower interests on short term crop loans for farmers for the 2017-18 fiscal.

He said that "this step will substantially alleviate the woes of small and marginal farmers, and urged the Prime Minister to go all the way to waive the existing farm debts of cultivators."

File photo of Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh

In a statement issued after the Union Cabinet's approval of the Interest Subvention Scheme for farmers, Amarinder said that "the Central government should move forward to waive the loans of at least the small farmers, who were resorting to extreme measures to escape their mounting debts.'

"The situation is critical," Amarinder said, claiming that the entire nation was "in the grip of a humanitarian crisis" due to the unrest among the farmers, who had taken to the streets in many states to draw the government's attention to their plight.

"Caught in a vicious cycle of debt, farmers around the country, including in Punjab, are resorting to suicide," the Chief Minister said.

"The entire farming community across states is in the grip of a serious financial crisis as a result of their debt cycles, coupled with low MSP for their produce, the Chief Minister claimed."

The farmers, who feed the nation, are unable to make both ends meet and they need the government's support to wade them through the crisis, Amarinder stressed.

The Chief Minister demanded immediate implementation of the Swaminathan Commission report to fix the MSP to ensure remunerative prices for farm produce, saying the implementation of the recommendations "were the only real solution to the problem in the long run".

While reiterating his government's commitment to waive farm loans, as promised by the Congress in its poll manifesto, Amarinder said, "Knee-jerk reactions by individual states, most of which were struggling to cope with the agrarian crisis, could not lead to a permanent resolution of the problem."

Amarinder warned that "failure to address the issue could lead to a serious food crisis for the country, which could lose its self-sufficiency in food grains and regress to the state in which it was before the green revolution."

PTI

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