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Budget fails to impress farming community in Punjab

The Budget allocation for the ‘crop loan waiver scheme’, a flagship programme of the Congress government, and crop diversification has failed to enthuse farmers who have been protesting the central agricultural laws for over three months.

Under the new scheme, ‘Kamyaab Kisan, Khushaal Punjab’, worth Rs 3,780 crore, Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal announced to improve the income of farmers and spared Rs 1,712 crore in which the loan of Rs 1,186 crore of 1.13 lakh farmers and Rs 526 crore of landless farm workers will be waived. The Budget also proposed Rs 200 crore for crop diversification programme.

Dr Satnam Singh Ajnala, president, Jamhoori Kisan Sabha, sees the Budget devoid of practicality.

“The relief incentive of Rs 1,712 crore would hardly be of any solace to the debt-ridden farmers. It was a ‘Chunaavi Budget’. The implementation of relief will be in July-August and the election code of conduct is expected by November. So, it is nothing but a ‘lollypop’ offered by the state government,” he said.

Harjit Singh Jheeta, press secretary, Azad Kisan Sangharsh Committee, said instead of debt relief, the government should have assured the minimum support price (MSP).

“Neither the Centre nor the state government has ever taken an initiative on the MSP. Before the last Assembly elections, Capt Amarinder Singh had vowed that the farmers’ debt would be the liability of the Congress if voted to power. But after assuming office, the government remained silent for four years, except making announcements during the last leg of its tenure,” he said.

He further said no concrete policy was ever framed for diversification and improving the water table. “If today, the government assures MSP on crops, other than the traditional wheat and paddy, scores of farmers would voluntarily adopt diversification,” he said.Satnam Singh Pandher, general secretary, Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee said: “No efforts have been made to redress the basic grievances of the farming community. The farmers are reeling under debt and ending life by suicide. Their children have bleak future. The farmers who till the land beyond the Indo-Pak border fencing cry for getting incentives regularly from the Centre.”

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