Jaipur: Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, facing flak over his promise of loan waiver to farmers, is now forming Farmers Debt Relief Commission in the state. The government has recently presented a bill in the state Assembly to constitute a five-member commission to be headed by a retired High Court judge. The proposed bill will probably be passed on August 2, when the Legislative Assembly will meet again.
Relief to farmers
The bill is expected to give relief to farmers who take loans from moneylenders and other financial organizations and fail to pay back due to reasons, including natural calamities.
The statement of objective and reason of the bill states, "The problem of farmer indebtedness is getting serious dimension in recent time. Many factors such as famine, flood, heavy rainfall, short rainfall, hailstorm and another natural calamity increase indebtedness of farmers and, thus, farmers become unable to pay loans taken from any financial institutions or money lenders. Keeping in view pitiful condition of the farmers there is necessity to bring a legislation to provide relief to the farmers whose principal means of livelihood is agriculture."
The Commission constituted under this proposed law shall be empowered to pass awards after adjudication and to recommend appropriate measures for the redressal of the grievances of such farmers through conciliation and negotiation.
Farmers advised to follow procedure
The bill provides that to get relief, the farmer will have to apply to the Commission under the prescribed procedure. The Commission will listen to both the farmer and the moneylender or financial institution and, depending on the situation, provide relief to the farmer through measures such as complete debt relief, payment in installments or rescheduling of the loan. The decision given by the commission cannot be challenged in any court. Apart from this, this commission will recommend to the government to declare any area or crop as endangered.
This commission will be headed by a retired High Court judge, whose name will be decided by the government. Apart from this, a senior retired IAS officer, a retired judicial officer who had been a judge in the district and sessions court, a retired banking sector officer and an agricultural expert will be members of the commission.
Countering the BJP
The move is being taken as a counter to BJP's issue of farmers loan waiver. During the last election in Rajasthan, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi had promised loan waiver for farmers in ten days. The Rajasthan government waived the loans of the farmers, but only the loans of cooperative banks could be waived off while most of the agriculture loans are of commercial banks. The BJP is constantly making it an issue and is accusing the government of reneging on its promises.
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