Even as the economy of Punjab, tends to be one of the brightest states in the country showing upward growth trajectory, around 1000 farmers commit suicide every year owing to indebtedness and poor harvest. However, the visionary government of Punjab appears to be solicitous towards them.
It has been clearly evident from the augmenting farmer’s suicide rate, that the farmers get trapped in the vicious circle of indebtedness and unfruitful harvest that suicide turns out to be their lender of last resort. To make things worse, according to various surveys on an average, three farmers kill themselves every two days, in Punjab. Approximately 3000 farmers committed suicide in the last three years. Keeping in view the same, the honorable finance minister of Punjab, Mr. Parminder Singh Dhindsa presented the farmers friendly Annual State Budget 2016 – 2017 in the legislative assembly, on 15 March 2016.
The main propositions state in the Annual State Budget, in the favor of farmers included-
- Interest free crop loan for the farmers holding up to 5 acres of land, for a crop loan amounting 50,000 rupees per crop.
- Initiation of Farmers Provident Fund – cum- Pension Scheme.
- Opening of Kisan Vikas Chamber, in Mohali district with the view of bridging the gap between the policy makers and farmers.
- Abolish VAT on raw honey, bee keeping and pig feed.
Apart from the above stated propositions, the Government of Punjab is also taking care of efficient operating of the Bhagat Puran Singh Sehat Bima Yojana, which provides an insurance cover of 5 lakh rupees to the family, in case of death or disability of head of the family. In addition to that, the family shall also be entitled to free medical facility of up to Rs. 50,000 per year. The scheme has been beneficial to about 11 lakh farmers in the state, so far. The Annual State Budget, 2016 even increased the compensation for farmer’s suicide from 2 lakhs to 3 lakhs.
Moving simultaneously with the Bhagat Puran Singh Sehat Bima Yojana, the state government has even decided to disburse financial assistance to the affected families of up to Rs. 64 crore, which shall be paid in two installments, first one by March 31 and, the second one by July 31. Preceding back over the years, the state government even released Rs. 23.86 crore for this purpose, in the year 2012 – 2013.
Punjab being an agrarian state, where 75% of the total population is directly or indirectly dependent on agriculture for earning a living – farmer suicide turns out to be a grave catastrophe. But not to forget that most of all, a state needs a responsive government which comprises of dedicated and committed politicians who live up to the prime standards of honest leadership.
Fortunately, the Government of Punjab continues to be an epitome of the same. The visionary far sightedness of the government has been contributing effectively towards putting a halt to the sufferings of the farmers.