The Captain Amarinder Singh government on Saturday decided to set up a Group of Experts to assess and analyze the quantum of the agriculture debt of farmers in the state, and propose ways and means to waive the debt in a time-bound manner.
The decision seeks to implement the Congress party’s pre-poll promise to waive off all farm loans in the state after coming to power, and was taken at the first meeting of the newly constituted Council of Ministers, chaired by CM Amarinder Singh, at the Punjab Bhawan here.
An official spokesperson disclosed that the members of the Group would be nominated by the chief minister himself and the Department of Agriculture would follow up to ensure that the Group submits its report within 60 days.
The meeting also decided to constitute a Cabinet Sub-Committee headed by the Chief Minister to consider and finalize the proposal to waive off farmers’ agricultural loans. The state ministers for finance, agriculture, irrigation and power departments will be members of the committee, which will be assisted by Chief Principal Secretary to Chief Minister (CPSCM), Chief Secretary (CS), Principal Secretary Finance (PSF) and Financial Commissioner Development (FCD), with the Department of Agriculture facilitating its work.
A new legislation will be brought in to prohibit sale and kurki of farmers’ land by the lending agencies. The Department of Agriculture would put up the draft bill for consideration in the next meeting.
The cabinet decided to continue free power to the farmers and also to omit the existing section 67 (a) of the Punjab Cooperative Societies Act 1961, for which the Department of Cooperation would get an ordinance issued at the earliest.
Other important decisions taken for the promotion of agriculture in the state include establishment of the Punjab State Agricultural Insurance Corporation, vigorous pursuance of the Agricultural Sustainability Programme, defraying of the farmers’ subsidy through direct bank transfers, strengthening and reorganizing the Punjab Farmers Commission, and setting up of an Agricultural Production Board.
In an effort to revive the state’s industries, the cabinet decided that a new Industrial Policy would be formulated by the Department of Industries and would be notified within 90 days. It was further decided that no NOC and CLU would be required for new electric connection and for enhancement of electrical power load.
The cabinet also decided to waive the condition of procuring CLUs (Change of Land Use) for duly notified Industrial Zones. It was decided that ICC at inter-state borders would be fully mechanized with no manual interjections at all. This task would be completed in 180 days.