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Punjab govt to release Rs 1,200 crore to clear loans

Chandigarh,  Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi on Thursday announced release of funds worth Rs 1,200 crore to clear loans up to Rs 2 lakh under the existing debt waiver scheme along with cancellation of all FIRs against farmers in the state who protested against the farm laws.

The latest tranche of funds is expected to benefit about 1.09 lakh small and marginal farmers having land up to five acres. The state government has already waived loans of 5.63 lakh farmers to the tune of Rs 4,610 crore.

Out of these, 1.34 lakh small farmers got relief of Rs 980 crore while 4.29 lakh marginal farmers were benefitted of loan waiver worth Rs 3,630 crore, an official statement said here.

Acceding to another major demand of Samyukt Kisan Morcha, Channi also announced cancellation of all FIRs registered by the Punjab Police against the farmers who protested against the “black farm laws” within the state by December 31.

The Chief Minister was speaking to reporters after holding a meeting with a group of Punjab’s farmers here.

Channi directed the Director General of Police to immediately complete the requisite formalities to cancel all the FIRs filed against various farmers, including those involved in the farm laws’ agitation and paddy straw burning cases across the state.

In a bid to “eulogise the unprecedented contribution of farmers and in the remembrance of sacrifices made by hundreds of farmers during the year-long farm agitation against the farm laws”, the Chief Minister also announced it will construct a state-of-the-art memorial across five acres of land, the statement said.

Mooting a proposal in this regard, Channi said the upcoming memorial exclusively dedicated to the farmers’ agitation and their sacrifices would be instrumental in showcasing the relentless battle of farmers in getting “these draconian farm laws repealed from the Centre”.

“This memorial is all the more important as it would reflect the supremacy of democracy and shows peaceful conduct of agitating by farmers,” he said.

He sought wholehearted support and cooperation from the Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM) to create the memorial as a monument to demonstrate the indomitable spirit of farmers and their peaceful agitation.

Channi also announced bringing small and marginal farmers, who have taken loans up to Rs 2 lakh with land holding up to 5 acres from the Punjab State Cooperative Agriculture Development Bank (PSCADB), previously known as Punjab State Cooperative Land Mortgage Bank, within the ambit of the debt waiver scheme.

On the occasion, Channi also handed over appointment letters on compassionate grounds to 17 next-of-kin of the farmers who died during the farm agitation. PTI