Tribune News Service
Faridkot, February 11
Farm labourers, including women, in the district have asked the state government to waive their loans. The development has come after the government announced to waive the loans of 5,056 farmers in the district.
They have given a call to start a state-level agitation in Patiala on March 4.
Demanding loan waiver, the labourers, including women, on Monday gathered under the banner of the Punjab Khet Mazdoor Union at Nangal village here.
The farm labourers said while many big landlords were getting benefit of loan waiver, landless and poor labourers are waiting endlessly for the same from the state government.
They said the state government was just giving them verbal assurances that on the pattern of farmers, their cooperative bank loans would be waived. They added that while giving such assurances, the state government preferred to ignore the fact that cooperative societies and banks did not like to give loans to landless farm labourer.
A farmer can avail a loan up to Rs 24,000 per acre from a cooperative society with whom he is registered as a member, but in case of landless labourers, they are not enrolled as members of the society, they said.
Even if landless labourers become members of the society, they are provided with various consumable commodities of the value worth maximum Rs 4,000 as loan by cooperative societies.
For this meagre loan of Rs 4,000, a farmer stands as guarantee said Gurpal Singh, a state committee member of the Punjab Khet Mazdoor Union.
At Nangal village, of the total 65 members of a cooperative society, there were only four landless labourer enrolled as members, said Gurpal.
He said, “When labourers do not get any loan from the cooperative societies and banks, what kind of loans is the state government promising to waive?” They demanded that like farmers, labourers should also be given a loan without any guarantee.
It is a casual statement that farm labourers would also be included in the next phase of loan waiver, said Gurpal.
As per a survey by the Punjab Khet Mazdoor Union, 84 per cent of the farm labourers are under debt and average debt is of about Rs 91,437 per worker. Moreover, the farm labourers pay an annual interest at a rate up to 36 per cent, said the labourers. Gurpal said to force the state government to accept their demands, they were starting a agitation in Patiala on March 4.