Chandigarh: The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) today asserted that Congress legislators were looting the State exchequer by preparing lists of beneficiaries of the proposed crop loan waiver scheme at their residences and ruthlessly ignoring genuine recipients.
In a statement here, former minister Bikram Singh Majithia said Congress legislators and halqa incharges had hijacked the crop loan waiver scheme and were instrumental in booting out small and marginal farmers from it. "Farmers themselves have exposed this fraud by revealing how Congress favourites have been included in the scheme even as eligible indebted farmers with less than five acres of land have been kept out. There are also accusations of Congressmen demanding bribes from indebted farmers to include their names in the beneficiary list”.
Majithia said farmers should start ‘gherao’ of legislators and ministers who were indulging in such malpractices. "There should be an independent inquiry into the entire scam to ensure the perpetrators who are making money out of the misery of indebted farmers are brought to book. The SAD will also start a protest movement in support of the farming community”, he added.
Stating that only a comprehensive loan waiver of Rs 90,000 crore covering cooperative and nationalized banks as well as private money lenders would be acceptable to the farming community, the Akali leader said the government should scrap the present corrupted scheme and implement a scheme which encompassed all indebted farmers as promised by the Congress party. "The current crop loan waiver scheme is fraud as the government reduced the number of beneficiaries from 10 lakh to 2 lakh. Now it has come about that there is a scam even in this. The current scheme does not include all farmers who own less than five acres of land. Small farmers with five acres of land who have availed a loan of over Rs two lakh have been made ineligible for the scheme. It also does not give any relief to those who are under stress and are committing suicide because it caters to only five per cent of farmers who have defaulted on crop loans. Even marginal farmers with 2.5 acres of land and farm labourers have been kept out of the scheme”.
Stating that there was an urgent need to revisit the entire issue and give relief to the entire indebted farming community, Majithia said this was the only way to end the spate of suicides in the State which had climbed up to almost 400 in the last ten months of Congress rule. "Not doing it will be the worst possible betrayal of the farming community in the history of the State. Never before has any elected government deceived farmers by making commitments of a complete loan waiver in the Vidhan Sabha and gone back on it in such a manner”, he added.
Meanwhile he also condemned the manner in which the government was pasting lists of indebted farmers in villages and subjecting them to social and mental torture. "Such farmers now run the risk of being branded as lifelong debtors and will have to pay a heavy social price for the same. The social stigma attached to them will even affect the marriage prospects of their daughters. The government should be sensitive to the feelings of the farm community and should not insult them like this. The lists should be taken down immediately and the government should apologise to the farmers for humiliating them in this manner”.