Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh has written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking farm loan waiver at the national level and modification in the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY).
Mr Singh wrote two letters to PM Modi and said the twin decisions - farm loan waiver and modifications in Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana - will act "as a one-time solution to help the farmers."
Underlining the need to safeguard the interests of Punjab's farmers, the Chief Minister stressed in the letter that a one-time agriculture debt waiver for farmers at the national level was necessary, while calling for Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana modifications to make the pro-farmer initiative more effective in transforming the rural economy.
"The relief provided by Punjab government's limited resources is not sufficient and must be fulfilled by the Government of India. Farmer-friendly initiatives will help reduce debt distress in this community," he said.
Acknowledging the pressure on farmers, he emphasised the need to rectify the situation, with well thought-out steps to relieve farmers' distress and improve their living conditions.
Mr Singh said that his government has provided a debt relief of Rs 2 lakh to all marginal farmers who had availed institutional loans and the small farmers with up to Rs 2 lakh loan waiver.
"In total, as many as 5.52 lakh farmers have been provided with a debt relief of Rs 4,468 crore so far. The remaining will be provided the entitled relief under the scheme in the near future," he said.
He said the recent initiatives by the Central government like the financial assistance provided under the PM-Kisan Yojana and pension to farmers are praiseworthy.
"It, however, will not be successful to adequately solve the farmer's distress on account of the high indebtedness of Punjab's farmers," he said.
In the second letter, he has urged PM Modi to advise the Union Ministry of Agriculture to bring about suitable modifications in the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana.
"Although this scheme is an improvement than the previous ones, there are several chasms that resulted in the non-acceptance by Punjab's farmers and its non-implementation in the state," he said.
Suggesting that Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana should be farm-and-plot-based rather than being area based, he said that indemnity level be increased from 90 per cent to 95 per cent and be based on the last year's yield affected.
He said that the provision for localized calamities should also cover the losses due to unseasonal rainfall during the Rabi crops and an increase in the cost of cultivation of Kharif crops due to deficient rainfall.
He has demanded that no premium charged from farmers should be shared between the Central and State governments on a ratio of 60:40 bases respectively, as most farmers are under economic distress.
"The present agrarian crises and financial stress on farmers is widely reported. It is felt that in such a situation farmers are unable to bear insurance premium which, it is felt, should be borne by the State and the Central governments," he said.
"In any case, the Central government does bear the cost on account of natural calamities and there should be no reason not to bear the cost of the premium, which helps to avoid the liabilities on account of natural disasters and calamities," he added.
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