Relief for landless farmers

Relief for landless farmers

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 28

Being an agrarian state, Punjab has always accorded high budgetary allocations for agriculture and allied services. As Punjab Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal presented his Budget proposals for 2020-21, he set aside Rs 12,526 crore for the agriculture sector.

However, a major component — Rs 8,275 crore — will go in providing free power to farmers and another Rs 2,000 crore has been allocated for the Debt Waiver and Debt Relief Scheme. This leaves Rs 2,251 crore for all other schemes and committed liabilities in the sector.

Officials in the Finance Department say since most schemes in the agriculture sector get funding in the ratio of 50:50, 60:40, 90:10 or 80:20 between the Centre and the state government, the money at disposal of the state government for all schemes is sufficient.

The Finance Minister announced that Rs 2,000 crore would be distributed among farmers under the state’s flagship Debt Waiver and Debt Relief Scheme.

This also includes a relief of Rs 520 crore to be given as debt waiver to landless farmers/labourers. In the ongoing year, Rs 1,500 crore is being given to the landless farmers.

A sum of Rs 200 crore has been kept side for the Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana, Rs 141 crore for the Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana; and Rs 200 crore has been set aside in the budget proposals for diversification of agriculture. The minister said they were looking at maize as an alternative crop to paddy-wheat that farmers in the state grew. As part of this diversification plan, Rs 100 crore has been kept aside for giving dues to cane growers, while upgrade of two cooperative sugar mills — Gurdaspur and Batala (Rs 50 crore) — has also been announced.

Two new agriculture colleges have been announced at Gurdaspur and Balachaur, while Rs 10 crore has been set aside for setting up of an agriculture marketing innovation research and intelligence centre in Mohali. Individual solar pumps are to be installed in Kala Sanghia, Kapurthala, during the solarisation of 11 kV Nathu Chahal feeder.

For horticulture crops, incentives are to be given to food processing industry; horticulture estates are to be set up at four places – Pear Estate in Verka ( Amritsar), litchi estate in Sujanpur (Pathankot), guava estate in Wajidpur (Patiala) and horticulture estate in Kotkapura. “A centre of excellence in floriculture is also in progress at Doraha (Ludhiana),” said the minister.

The Rural Development Fund and Market Development Fee has been reduced from present 4 per cent to one per cent. Manpreet said this was being done as there was a large-scale evasion on paying the taxes. “If we reduce it to one per cent, most people won’t mind paying it,” he said.

Key proposals

  • Horticulture estates are to be set up at Pear Estate in Verka, litchi estate in Sujanpur, guava estate in Wajidpur (Patiala) and horticulture estate in Kotkapura.
  • Two agriculture colleges have been announced at Gurdaspur and Balachaur, while Rs10 crore has been set aside for a research centre in Mohali.
  • Rs100 crore has been kept aside for paying dues to cane growers, while upgrade of two cooperative sugar mills — Gurdaspur and Batala — has also been announced.

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