Sangrur, Jul 2: Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal today claimed that the SAD-BJP government has taken "unprecedented" steps in the state for the welfare of farmers during its nine-year rule so far.
On the sidelines of a Sangat Darshan programme in Dirbha Assembly segment here, he said in a "major" pro-farmers move, the government has framed the Punjab Settlement of Agricultural Indebtedness Act 2016 which aims to provide a framework for expeditious determination and settlement of non-institutional agricultural debt.
The Chief Minister said as per the provisions of the Act, the process of establishing district-level agricultural debt settlement forums and a state-level Agricultural Debt Settlement Tribunal was being expedited. He said the Act would play "a pivotal role" in alleviating difficulties of farmers in getting their non-institutional debts reconciled and settled.
Badal said as far as the debt of the banking sector was concerned, it was the prerogative of the Centre and the state hardly had any role to play in it.
He claimed he had always been "keen" to solve the problems of the farming community and every step has been taken to "bail" them out, adding that his government has launched a first-of-its-kind scheme to provide interest-free crop loans worth Rs 50,000 to farmers and it was also providing free electricity worth Rs 5,000 crore annually to them.
Reiterating the commitment of his government to saving every single drop of water, the Chief Minister said the construction of Sutlej Yamuna Link (SYL) canal "would not be allowed at any cost".
Badal also said in another historic decision, it has been decided that all farmers in the state would be provided a health insurance cover of Rs 50,000 and an insurance cover of Rs 5 lakh in case of accidental death or incapacitation of the head of the family.
Asked to comment on the proposed visit of Delhi Chief Minister and AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal to Punjab, the Chief Minister said in democracy, every party was free to carry on its political activities.