Hotels, restaurants on highways can now serve liquor: Punjab Govt.

Image: Facebook page of Capt. Amarinder Singh.

Keeping one of his key poll promises, Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Monday announced a total waiver of all crop loans up to Rs 2 lakh for small and marginal farmers (up to 5 acres).

The Chief Minister proposed that the Speaker may constitute a 5-member committee of the Vidhan Sabha to visit families of the suicide victims, ascertain the reasons for suicides and suggest further steps to be taken to check the menace.

He also said decisions by Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Uttar Pradesh to waive farmers’ loans in their states led Maharashtra peasants to demand similar relief, which prompted his dispensation to announce the waiver.

The state government also said that they would provide more than two lakhs loans to around 1.5 marginal farmers.

The Punjab Cabinet yesterday gave its nod to a proposal to amend Section 26-A of Punjab Excise Act, 1914 which will remove all ambiguities for serving of liquor at hotels, restaurants by adding provisions whereby it is cleared that no retail vend would be opened within 500 meter of the national and state highways. He also said that his government has made a decision to repeal Section 67A of the Punjab Cooperative Societies Act, 1961, deals with the auction (kurki) of farmers’ land.

He also offered to immediately give up the subsidy at his own farms to set an example, and appealed to his colleagues to do the same.

The Parkash Singh Badal regime accepted a Rs 31,000-crore loan to cover the shortfall in the cash credit limit for procurement of foodgrains, Amarinder alleged, for which his government has to pay Rs 270 crore every month (Rs 3240 crore annually).

He also announced a series of other measures to bring the agriculture sector back on track. UP chief minister Yogi Adityanath announced a farm loan waiver of Rs 36,000 crore soon after coming to power post assembly elections. This includes 8.75 lakh marginal farmers.

“The loan waivers would likely worsen the fiscal deficits and leverage levels of the state governments, unless other resources are mobilised or expenditure is controlled”, said Aditi Nayar of ICRA, an affiliate of Moody’s Investors Service.

The identified beneficiaries will be issued Smart Ration cards and ration will be distributed through Point of Sale devices using bio-metric authentication, he said.

He reiterated his commitment to the promotion of horticulture to help in crop diversification and boost farmers’ income and has announced a slew of initiatives for the same.