Chandigarh: Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh on Wednesday urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to waive off loans of distressed farmers at the national level.
In a letter to Modi, the chief minister said that a one-time agriculture debt waiver for farmers was essential to reduce distress among the farming community and help in putting agriculture sector on a path of high growth trajectory.
"The government of India should bite the bullet once and for all," Amarinder Singh wrote in the letter.
It was widely acknowledged that most of these 'anndaatas' (growers) of the country were facing severe debt stress, as a result of which some of them had even taken the extreme step of ending their lives by committing suicides, the CM said further.
He also emphasised on the need to rectify the situation, not with slow and small measures but with carefully thought-out steps to mitigate their distress and improve their living conditions.
Amarinder Singh apprised the prime minister that the Punjab government alone had provided a debt relief of Rs 2 lakh to all the marginal and small farmers who had availed institutional loans.
As many as 5.52 lakh farmers have been provided a debt relief of Rs 4,468 crore so far, and the remaining would be provided the entitled relief under the scheme in the near future, he said.
The relief given by the Punjab government from its limited resources was not adequate and needed to be supplemented by the government of India, Amarinder Singh wrote in his letter seeking a loan waiver at the national level.
Though the recent initiatives of the central government, including financial assistance under PM-Kisan scheme, which provides income support of Rs 6,000 per year, and pension to farmers were praiseworthy, they may not be adequate to mitigate the prevailing economic distress on account of high indebtedness of the Punjab farmers, he said.
In another letter, the CM urged Modi to advise the Union Ministry of Agriculture to effect suitable modifications in Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojna (PMFBY).
Amarinder Singh said although, the scheme was considered to be a step forward and better than the previous ones, there were several "lacunae", which had resulted in its non-acceptance by Punjab's farmers and its non-implementation in the state.
The CM suggested that the PMFBY should be made farm or plot based instead of area based, as was the case at present.
Further, he suggested that indemnity level at more than 90 per cent be allowed and be based on last year's yield of affected and insured farmers.
The post-harvest losses in the mandis due to natural calamities should also be covered under the scheme, said Amarinder Singh.
The provision for localised calamities should also cover the losses due to unseasonal rainfall during Rabi crops and increase in cost of cultivation of Kharif crops due to deficient rainfall, he added.
He also demanded that no premium should be charged from farmers and it should be shared between central and state governments in 60:40 ratio, as most of the farmers were reeling under acute economic distress.