In a significant decision, the Punjab Cabinet today approved the Bill on "The Punjab Settlement of Agricultural Indebtedness 2016". The proposed legislation provides for a framework for expeditious determination and settlement of non-institutional agricultural debt. The Bill would be tabled in the ongoing session of Punjab Vidhan Sabha for consideration.
A decision to this effect was taken in the Cabinet meeting chaired by Punjab Chief Minister Mr. Parkash Singh Badal at Punjab Bhawan this afternoon.
Disclosing this here today, a spokesperson of the Chief Minister’s Office said that the Bill envisages the establishment of District Level Agricultural Debt Settlement Forums and a State Level Agricultural Debt Settlement Tribunal to alleviate difficulties of farmers in getting their non-institutional debts reconciled and settled. The District Level Forums would be headed by a retired/serving District or Additional District Session Judge and will comprise of two more members- one representative of farming community and another representative of money lenders. The State level Tribunal would be headed by a retired Judge of the High Court and will have two more members. Both the Forum and Tribunal will have a term of three years. The Bill also enables the government to prescribe a maximum rate of interest which can be charged by the creditors on non-institutional loans provided by them. The Forum will decide the dispute within three months. Jurisdiction of Civil Courts has been barred. All pending disputes in the Civil Courts will be transferred to these Forums from the date the Act is notified. Each creditor will issue an authenticated passbook to the debtor. The proceedings before the Forum and the Tribunal will be judicial proceedings.
According to the provisions of the proposed Bill, any debtor or creditor of agricultural loan can file a petition before the District Level Forum for settlement of their debt and if aggrieved with the order of the Forum, can file an appeal before the State Level Tribunal. The Forum can determine and settle the agriculture loans upto Rs.15 lac. The Bill will cover agriculturists and agriculture labourers as well.
The Cabinet also gave approval to fill the posts including Group A (Non Teaching), Nursing Faculty posts (Group A and Group B), Group B and Group C through a committee headed by the Vice Chancellor, Baba Farid University of Health Science, Faridkot. Likewise, the posts of Medical/Dental Teaching Faculty would be filled by the committee under the Chairmanship of Advisor to the Punjab Government on Health and Medical Education Dr. KK Talwar. The Group D posts would be filled by the Head of the concerned institutions. This step would remove the deficiencies raised by the Medical Council of India/Dental Council of India and Indian Nursing Council with regard to shortage of faculty and staff in these institutions.
It may be recalled that the state government had already sanctioned 34 posts of teaching faculty in the Government Medical Colleges, Patiala and Amritsar to provide the best treatment and diagnostic services to the patients inflicted with cancer in their advanced cancer centres.
The Cabinet also gave approval to grant extension in the contract of Health Pharmacist and Sweepers working as service providers @ Rs.7000 and Rs.3000 per month respectively in 1186 subsidiary health centres under Zila Parishads w.e.f. April 1, 2016 to March 31, 2017 in the public interest as a stop gap arrangement upto March 31, 2017 or till the regular recruitment, whichever is earlier.