Tribune News Service
Sangrur, July 17
Hardening its stand against defaulters, the Patiala division of the Punjab Agriculture Development Bank (PADB) has prepared a list of 12,625 farmers in six districts whose agriculture land it intends to sell to recover pending dues estimated at Rs 229.80 crore. This comes amid a demand by various farmers’ organisations in the state to waive loans of all debt-trapped cultivators.
Also, the PADB authorities are preparing to take 19,758 farmers to court to recover an amount of Rs 342.12 crore. These initiatives are bound to see the bank and farmers’ unions at loggerheads. Bharti Kisan Union (Ugrahan) has already announced it will fight the move tooth and nail.
“We will not allow the sale of land. Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh must fulfil his promise and waive all loans,” said an agitated Sukhdev Singh Kokri Kalan, general sectary of the union.
The bank’s Patiala division comprises Patiala, Fatehgarh Sahib, Ropar, Barnala, Sangrur and Ludhiana districts.
“We have procured 109 arrest warrants. Twenty-eight farmers have been arrested already and a sum of Rs 70.79 lakh recovered from them,” said a senior bank officer after a meeting here.
Sources said the recovery this rabi season had reached 26.74 per cent (Rs 154.67 crore) of the total outstanding amount of Rs 578.42 crore — more than double of last year’s figure of 12.51 per cent (Rs 59.10 crore) of the outstanding dues estimated at Rs 472.34 crore. “We owe our success to Co-operation Minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa,” bank’s senior officer Rajnish Bansal said. The minister could not be reached. His PA Krishan said: “He is busy for the day.”
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