Haryana announces interest waiver on crop loans; Khattar says I am farmer's son, know their pain

PTI | Chadigarh | Updated: 23-02-2024 20:09 IST | Created: 23-02-2024 19:50 IST
Haryana announces interest waiver on crop loans; Khattar says I am farmer's son, know their pain
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Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar on Friday announced a waiver of interest and penalty on certain crop loans and did not hike taxes in the Rs 1.89-lakh-crore budget for 2024-25.

While announcing the budget proposals at a time when farmers have intensified protests at Punjab-Haryana borders, Khattar asserted that his government has taken many steps for the welfare of the farmers and that Minimum Support Price is being given for 14 crops.

Emphasizing on the welfare of farmers, poor and other sections, Khattar said, ''Our objective will be to provide adequate facilities to 'Gareeb' as well as Annadatta farmers and to provide better opportunities for the advancement of Yuva-Shakti and Nari-Shakti''.

Khattar, who also holds the Finance portfolio, announced to double the financial compensation to Rs 1 crore for families of soldiers who die in the line of duty.

''For 2024-25, I propose a budget of Rs 1,89,876.61 crore which is 11.37 per cent more than Rs 1,70,490.84 crore (revised estimates) of 2023-24,'' Khattar said during his two-hour budget speech in the Assembly.

In a major announcement, Khattar said that interest and penalty will be waived on crop loans taken by farmers from Primary Agriculture Credit Societies (PACS).

''I announce to waive interest and penalty on the crop loan in case crop loan was availed till September 30, 2023, and the principal amount is paid by May 31, 2024, provided the farmer is registered with MFMB (Meri Fasal Mera Byora),'' Khattar said while presenting his fifth budget.

He said that such loans should have been taken by farmers registered on MFMB portal and thereafter, the farmers will be eligible for crop loans from PACS during the Kharif season.

As the chief minister made the announcement, Leader of Opposition Bhupinder Singh Hooda asked him, ''You talk of farmers, then why you slap NSA (National Security Act) on peaceful farmers. Farmers are protesting on Haryana's borders''.

In response, Khattar said the budget is being taken up and in that, he is touching upon steps for farmers' welfare.

''As much farmers are dear to you, they are to us also''.

''I have ploughed the field. I am a farmer. I am a son of a farmer … I know the pain of farmers. When I have announced a scheme in favour of farmers, either you are not able to digest it or not liking it,'' Khattar said.

While Hooda was intervening, Khattar said it is for those who do not pay on time. The number of defaulting farmers is 5,47,900 and their principal amount is Rs 2,140 crore but the interest and penalty amount is Rs 1,739 crore and I announce a waiver of Rs 1,739 crore.

Reacting to the CM's announcement, Hooda later told reporters: ''The government should have announced loan waiver straightaway as farmers are under heavy debt...there is nothing much in the budget''.

On Friday, Haryana Police said it was withdrawing the earlier decision to invoke provisions of the NSA against some farmer leaders who are part of the ongoing farmers' agitation.

Khattar also announced to increase financial compensation from Rs 50 lakh to Rs 1 crore for families of soldiers who die in the line of duty.

He also announced that 1,000 km of free travel in Haryana Roadways will be provided to nearly 22.89 lakh families having an annual income of Rs 1 lakh, benefitting 84 lakh people. It will incur an estimated expenditure of Rs 600 crore, he said.

Describing farmers as the backbone of the economy, Khattar said the government has taken various measures for their benefit as a result of which agricultural production has grown at 8.1 per cent in 2023-24, amongst the highest in the country.

Khattar said monthly minimum charges (MMC) are imposed by the distribution companies on consumer where their consumption is below a limit. ''I propose to eliminate the MMC for tariff category-1 consumers with domestic connected load up to 2 kW and this step will provide a relief of about Rs 180 crore to the poorest of the poor families.'' A Rs 10 crore startup fund will be set for encouraging drone manufacturing in Haryana, said Khattar.

The government will also train women to operate drones for agricultural purposes and these women will be called 'drone didis', he said. ''The state will also make provisions to provide drones, which may be given on rent for agricultural purposes.'' He also announced that freedom fighters' monthly allowance will be raised from Rs 25,000 to Rs 40,000.

Khattar also proposed setting up of 400 new sports nurseries in the state. Two high-performance centres for boxing and wrestling will come up in Panipat and Sonepat in 2024-25.

He said 21 vegetables and fruit crops have been included in the ''Bhavantar Bharpai Yojana to reduce farmers' risk.

Khattar began his speech by expressing gratitude to Prime Minister Narendra Modi ''for enabling the construction of Ram temple and consecration of Lord Shri Ram Lalla ji at Ayodhya almost 500 years of waiting and struggle''.

Haryana has witnessed a year-on-year growth in its GSDP at constant prices of 8 per cent in 2023-24 while the state's per capita income stood at Rs 3,25,759, he said. Stubble-burning cases decreased by 67 per cent to 2303 in the last two years from 6,987 cases in 2021-22.

Khattar also announced a scheme to provide additional financial assistance up to Rs 50,000 for the installation of rooftop solar panels of up to 2 KW. Households with average monthly electricity consumption is up to 200 units will be benefitted.

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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