The Punjab Cabinet led by Captain Amarinder Singh on Saturday gave in-principle approval to a debt relief scheme for farm labourers and landless farming members of PACS, to provide a major relief to 2.85 lakh people, of which around 70% are Dalits.
The scheme will benefit the farm labourers and landless farmers of PACS to the tune of Rs. 520.55 crores. The waiver includes principal amount of Rs.388.55 crore, Rs.78 crores as interest @7% till March 31, 2017, besides Rs.54 crores on account of interest @7% w.e.f April 1, 2017 to March 31, 2019 as outstanding on March 31, 2019.
It may be recalled that the Captain Amarinder Singh government, in the recent Budget Session of Vidhan Sabha, had announced a budgetary allocation to implement this scheme. The Chief Minister himself had given an assurance earlier that as the state’s financial condition improves, he will bring landless farmers and farm labourers into the ambit of the debt relief scheme.
According to an official spokesperson, beneficiaries would be Individual farm labourers and landless farming members of Primary Cooperative Agriculture Service Societies (PACS). Members of only those PACS would be eligible for debt relief who have been availing advancement from DCCBs. The amount eligible for debt relief shall comprise the outstanding principal amount up to a limit of Rs.25000/- as on March 31, 2017 and simple interest @7% per annum.
The debt relief shall not be available to those members who are either employees/pensioners of Govt./Semi Govt./Public Sector Undertaking of any State/Central Govt. and or income tax payee.
If an individual has more than one account, the relief would be given for one account only, which has higher outstanding amount subject to the maximum of Rs.25000/- as principal. The accounts of the beneficiaries would be Aadhar-seeded to avoid duplication.
The move comes as an extension of the Debt Relief Scheme of October 2017 for small and marginal farmers with loans up to Rs. 2 lakhs. Under the scheme, till date, the government has waived off loans of Rs. 5.47 lakhs small and marginal farmers to the extent of approximately Rs.4600 crores.
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