Punjab farmers in distress due to Rs 14,000 cr outstandings: Congress

Chandigarh, Nov 25 (IANS) The opposition Congress on Friday blamed the “ill-timed” demonetisation for distress to Punjab farmers whose pending payments totalled Rs 14,000 crore.

In a memorandum submitted to Punjab Governor V.P. Singh Badnore, senior Congress leader Sunil Jakhar said the farmers were in distress following the “economic anarchy in Punjab due to non-payment of dues and stoppage of operations of cooperative banks”.

“The government of Punjab, through its procurement agencies, owe close to Rs 14,000 crore to the farmers of Punjab for paddy procured by them since October 15.

“Not only were the farmers not paid, but a large amount is still pending as wages of the labourers engaged in the process and commission due to the whole-sale commission agents,” the memorandum observed.

“As pointed out by the CAG, the Akali Dal-BJP government in its last nine years have embezzled and misappropriated food stocks worth Rs 31,000 crore, and the Congress believes the consortium banks, as a measure of abundant precaution, are not releasing payment to the procurement agencies,” it said.

Expressing apprehension that “an attempt was being made to convert this loot into loan by state government”, the Congress leaders pointed out that the move would “result in huge escalation in public debt”.

“Cash crunch due to demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes has created economic anarchy and, in Punjab, it is further aggravated by stopping banking operations of cooperative banks,” the memorandum further said.

It said agrarian operations were lagging behind by up to 30 per cent.

Seeking immediate release of payments for farmers, Jakhar said the situation was a “conspiracy against the cooperative movement in the state”.

A Green Revolution state, Punjab contributes nearly 50 per cent of food grain to the central kitty despite having just 1.54 per cent of the country’s geographical area.