Congress government plans mega event on first anniversary
Chandigarh – To mark the completion of its first year in office, the Amarinder Singh-led Congress government in Punjab is planning a mega event where it hopes to disburse debt relief certificates to as many as one lakh farmers from across the state, a senior official said on Monday. The state government also plans to hold a ‘Job Mela’, on a scale bigger than before, to provide employment opportunities to the youth under its ‘Har Ghar Rozgar’ scheme, the official added. “There is going to be a function to mark the first anniversary. However, the date and venue of the function are still being worked out,” said the official.Singh had sworn-in as the Punjab chief minister for the second time along with nine ministers on March 16 last year, after he guided the Congress to a resounding victory. Singh, who was sworn in as the state’s 26th chief minister, had earlier headed a Congress government in the state from 2002 to 2007. The event is likely to be organised before the Budget session next month, and the ‘cash strapped’ state government has planned to disburse debt relief certificates to one lakh farmers, the senior official said. “The plan is to distribute debt relief certificates to the eligible beneficiaries from across the state,” he said adding that self declaration forms had already been circulated. Punjab government had last month rolled out its farm debt waiver scheme from Mansa district. Nearly 47,000 eligible beneficiaries, small and marginal growers, were given debt relief certificates to the tune of Rs 167.39 crore. The scheme initially covered farmers who availed loans from agricultural cooperative societies in five districts – Mansa, Bathinda, Faridkot, Muktsar and Moga. However, within ten days of launch, the government announced a system of selfdeclaration on land holdings by the beneficiaries of the farm debt waiver scheme after Some MLAs pointed out that big farmers were transferring portions of land to their sons to claim benefits. The government has already identified 5.63 lakh farmers, who took loans of nearly Rs 2,700 crore from the cooperative institutions as on March 31, last year, an official said. Despite the roll out of the debt waiver scheme, the state government has been facing a barrage of criticism’ from opposition parties who have termed the effort as ‘inadequate.’ Punjab government had announced farm debt waiver for up to Rs 2 lakh for small and marginal farmers (up to 5 acres) and a flat Rs 2 lakh relief for all other marginal farmers, thus benefiting over 10 lakh farmers. Opposition parties including SAD-BJP had accused the state government of failing in implementing its poll promises including complete debt waiver, smart phones etc.
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