Punjab

Free power will continue,no question of billing farmers : Capt Amarinder

March 14, 2018 04:31 PM

Punjab News Express/Sameer Kaura
CHANDIGARH: Lashing out at the Akalis for trying to mislead the citizens of the state, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Wednesday promised total implementation of his party’s election promise on farm debt waiver while categorically ruling out any move to withdraw free power for agriculture.

Captain Amarinder Singh was addressing the farming community at a programme to issue debt waiver certificates amounting to Rs. 162.16 crore to 29,192 farmers at the Dana Mandi here, in the second stage of waiver of loans for the state’s 10.25 lakh small and marginal farmers. Eligible farmers from the five districts of Jalandhar, Kapurthala, Ludhiana, Fazilka and Ferozepur got their loan waiver certificates today.

Describing the distribution of the certificate as part of the fulfilment of the election promise made to the farmers by the Congress, Captain Amarinder Singh assured the farmers that the slight delay in the matter was the result not of funds paucity but the fact that the procedure for identification and verification of the eligible farmers, along with their loan amount, was taking some time. However, he made it clear that he was totally committed to implementing the promise of debt waiver, which he had made ahead of the Assembly elections after hearing of farmer suicides in every place he visited.

The number of suicides had come down since the Congress took over, said the Chief Minister, adding there had been marked improvement in the situation, of which his government will give details in the forthcoming budget session of the Vidhan Sabha.

Assailing the Akalis for spreading brazen lies and indulging in blatantly false propaganda against his government on the issue of tubewell meters, the Chief Minister ruled out any proposal to withdraw free power for farmers. His government had only provided meters to 900 of the 13.5 lakh tubewells in the state as part of a research project aimed at saving ground water while ensuring that the farmers also get an incentive in the form of cash savings for their personal use. He further explained this by pointing out that if a farmer is given Rs 10,000 against his tubewell power consumption and ends up spending Rs 7000 then not only will the remaining Rs 3000 go into his pocket but he will also contribute to saving the declining ground water level in the state.

The Akalis were trying to create misconceptions in the mind of the people by making false allegations against the Congress over the issue, said Captain Amarinder Singh, asserting that there was no question of anyone making money from these meters.

It was the responsibility of our generation to save water for the future generations, said the Chief Minister, warning that Punjab could well end up as a desert unless immediate corrective measures are taken to check the decline in water levels. He cited the example of Patiala where the water level had receded from 70 feet to 700 feet in just one year.

Instead of appreciating the efforts of his government, the Akalis were indulging in deceit and accusations, said Captain Amarinder Singh, urging the people not to get misled by the Akalis, who were hand-in-glove with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and were only interested in filling their pockets at the cost of Punjab’s economy. The nexus between the two parties was evident from the fact that the Akali leadership had started plying buses in neighbouring Himachal Pradesh ever since the BJP took over in that state, he added.

The Chief Minister also took on Harsimrat Kaur Badal for her total failure to protect Punjab’s and the farmers’ interests in the Centre, of which she was a part. She did not raise her voice even though the BJP government at the Centre failed to take any steps in the budget for the farming community, said Captain Amarinder Singh, pointing out that the NDA government had failed to implement the Swaminathan Report, which was the only way to help the farmers boost their income and bring the agriculture sector out of the doldrums into which it had been plunged.

Captain Amarinder Singh warned the Akalis and the BJP that his government would not allow them to destroy Punjab any further. He came out with a categorical assurance that the debt waiver promise would be implemented in toto, with loans from other banks to be addressed after the completion of the current phase which covers cooperative bank loans of the small and marginal farmers.

In the third stage, another 50,000 farmers will get their debt waiver certificates in the Majha area, said the Chief Minister, making it clear that the process was unstoppable.

Speaking earlier, Rural Development and Panchayats Minister Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa lauded Captain Amarinder’s pro-farmer initiatives, comparing him with Sir Chhotu Ram, a champion of the interests of the farmers who did a lot of work for the peasantry.

Describing Captain Amarinder Singh as the “second Chhotu Ram”, Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal lauded him for ensuring smooth procurement and initiating the process of implementation of all the election promises, which was not an easy task, given the fiscal situation in the state. The Akalis did nothing for Punjab in 10 years and are now pointing fingers at the Congress government, he added.

Forests and Welfare Minister Sadhu Singh Dharamsot also hit out at the Akalis for looting Punjab and destroying its agriculture and industry to build their own empire. They undertook no welfare measures, he said, adding that, in contrast, Captain Amarinder Singh had already initiated various steps, including hike in old age and widow pensions.

Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) president and Gurdaspur MP Sunil Jakhar challenged the SAD to break ties with BJP for failing to give any package to Punjab, just as TDP had done.

 

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