Chandigarh, March 24 – Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) President Sukhbir Singh Badal today requested chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh to suspend collection of loan instalments of cooperative banks for six months besides deferring interest on them even as he asked the Punjab government to come out with a comprehensive loan waiver scheme for all cooperative bank loans taken by farmers.
In a statement here, the SAD President said the farm sector had been already affected by the COVID-19 pandemic with small farmers and farm labourers being the most affected. He said the government should take appropriate measures to ensure the farm economy did not collapse in Punjab and the livelihood of farmers and farm labourers was not threatened.
Mr Badal said besides giving relief on loans taken from Cooperative banks, the State government should also come out with a comprehensive loan waiver scheme which was due since long and should be implemented quickly keeping in view the hardships being faced by farmers. He said simultaneously the government should announce a cash relief for farm labourers. He said farm labourers had been most affected by the Caronovirus pandemic and they should be given a direct cash relief of Rs 2,000 per month to help them tide over this crisis. He said daily wagers in urban areas should be given a direct relief of Rs 3,000 per month.
The SAD President said similarly all social welfare beneficiaries including the aged and widows, should be given advance pension for one month besides clearing of the backlog. He said since distribution of the Aata-daal scheme might not be feasible, beneficiaries could be wired cash deposits corresponding to the backlog due to them under the scheme as well as one-month advance cash benefit under the scheme.
Mr Badal also urged that a special plan be formulated for procurement of the upcoming wheat crop, saying this could include procuring wheat at the doorstep of farmers and storing it there only in case the Caronavirus pandemic was not controlled till the start of the harvesting season. He said other measures should also be devised to ensure a safe and hassle-free procurement of wheat.