Surjewala seeks spl package for Punjab, Haryana farmers
Chandigarh, July 4 (UNI) Claiming that about 1,000 farmers commit suicide annually in Punjab and Haryana where peasantry is reeling under debt of up to Rs 57,000 crore, senior Congress leader Shamsher Singh Surjewala demanded a special package for the farmers of North Indian states.
He urged the Central Government to announce the package on the lines of the one announced for South Indian states, saying about 78 per cent of all farm households in Punjab and Haryana were under debt amounting to a whopping Rs 57,000 crore.
Addressing a press conference here, he said the Centre should also chalk out a detailed policy framework to tackle the problem of indebtedness of farmers on long term basis.
In this context, he suggested a number of measures, including a cut in the rate of bank interest on agriculture credit bringing it down to five or six per cent.
NABARD should play the role of a provider, facilitator and a regulator in this regard, he said.
He said the mounting debts should be settled through Debt Conciliation Boards and in case, debtor had no source to repay, the government should carry the burden to clear the debts.
Loan for marriage and other social functions should be provided at an interest rate of four per cent. The land of farmers including the households, foodgrains, agricultural implements and machinery and cattle be exempted from any liability.
Mr Surjewala also suggested that crop insurance scheme should be made applicable by making the village and not the block as a unit which was the norm at present.
Sale of adulterated diesel, spurious seeds, pestcides and fertilisers should be punishable with life imprisonment and the law should provide that courts had no discretion in reducing the sentence of the guilty in such cases.
He suggested that a fresh look should be given to the existing mechanism to determine minimum support price by linking it to the ever increasing cost of agricultural inputs, including the land labour and adding an additional 15 per cent as sustenance amount.
UNI MA PR HS1830