(Says farmers left with no alternative but to gherao Cong mlas and ministers)
Chandigarh, January 5 – Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) president Sukhbir Singh Badal today said the Congress government was playing with the lives of Punjab farmers by proposing to implement a fraudulent crop loan waiver which left out genuine beneficiaries and demanded it be scrapped and replaced with a comprehensive waiver covering all indebted farmers.
In a statement here, the SAD president said nearly 400 farmers had committed suicide after the government failed to implement the promised Rs 90,000 loan waiver covering cooperative and nationalized banks as well as private money lenders. He said now an even more dangerous trend was in the offing after the suicide of a farmer from Lehragaga in Sangrur who took his life after finding out his name was not in the beneficiary list.
Asserting that the Congress government and its legislators were responsible for the death of Lehragaga farmer Sikander Singh, the SAD president said this had happened because Congressmen had vitiated the entire exercise by resorting to corruption which had left lakhs of deserving beneficiaries out of the ambit of the current crop loan waiver scheme. “The present scheme is only for crop loans which have a traditional recovery percentage of 95 per cent”. Stating that indebted farmers would not to tolerate this injustice, Mr Badal asked them to gherao Congress legislators and ministers to get their just due. “The government’s repeated betrayals on this issue have left farmers with no other choice”, he said while adding that the SAD would also launch a protest movement against this injustice.
The SAD president said besides cherry picking of beneficiaries at the hands of Congressmen, for which bribes were also being exchanged, the government was also denying the loan waiver to those who needed it most. “Small farmers with less than five acres of land are being denied this waiver if their debt amount is Rs one more than Rs two lakh. Similarly marginal farmers with less than 2.5 acres of land are also being kept out of the ambit of the scheme. No relief had been given to farm labourers”. He said many beneficiaries who had been given relief between Rs 100 and a few thousand had been deliberately included in the scheme to inflate the beneficiary list in order to deceive the farming community.
Demanding an independent inquiry into the entire scam which was being touted as a loan waiver, Badal said it was shameful that Congressmen were making money out of the misery of farmers. Demanding an inquiry into this sordid scandal, he said this case should be handed over to an independent agency as the Congress government could not be trusted to take action against its own legislators who were behind the scam