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Haryana announces interest, penalty waiver on crop loans amid farmers protest

During the budget presentation, former Chief Minister Bhupinder Hooda slammed the Haryana government for invoking the National Security Act (NSA) against the farmer leaders who are protesting at Punjab-Haryana border. However, the Khattar government had reversed its decision of invoking NSA.

Shashwat Bhandari Edited By: Shashwat Bhandari @ShashBhandari New Delhi Updated on: February 23, 2024 16:25 IST
Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar
Image Source : PTI Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar

Farmers protest: Amid farmers protest, the Haryana government on Friday announced that it has waived off interest and penalty on certain crop loans.  

In a major announcement, Khattar, who also holds the finance portfolio, said that interest and penalty will be waived on crop loans taken by farmers form 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)," he said.

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

Presenting the state's budget, Khattar also informed that the government did not hike taxes as he presented a Rs 1.89 lakh crore budget for 2024-25 financial year.

While announcing the budget proposals at a time when farmers have intensified their 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 (MSP) is being given for 14 crops.

The government has also decided 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 while presenting the budget in the Haryana Assembly.

'Why did you slap NSA on farmers?' Ex-CM Bhupinder Hooda slams Haryana govt, Khattar responds 

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 farmers."

In response, Khattar said that "as much farmers are dear to you, they are to us also".

"I am the 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," he said.

Haryana withdraws decision to invoke NSA on farmer leaders 

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.

This comes a day after Ambala police issued a statement saying that it was implementing the process of detaining office bearers of the protesting farmer outfits under section 2(3) of the National Security Act, 1980, to maintain law and order and prevent criminal activities.

The Samyukta Kisan Morcha (Non-Political) and the Kisan Mazdoor Morcha (KMM) are spearheading a 'Delhi Chalo' march to press the government into accepting their demands, including a legal guarantee of Minimum Support Price for crops and a farm loan waiver.

While presenting the budget in the state assembly, Khattar also announced an increase in the financial compensation from Rs 50 lakh to Rs 1 crore for families of soldiers who die in line of duty.

He also announced that his government would provide 1,000 km of free travel in Haryana Roadways 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.

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. For details, a notification will be issued later," the chief minister said.

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. Besides, two high performance centres for boxing and wrestling will come up in Panipat, Sonepat in 2024-25, he added.

A sum of Rs 578 cr for the sports sector has been proposed in 2024-25 as against Rs 432 crore in 2023-24, said the CM. Khattar said 21 vegetables and fruit crops have been included in the "Bhavantar Bharpai Yojana to reduce farmers' risk.

In the last two years, stubble burning incidents dropped by 67 per cent in Haryana, he added.

With inputs from PTI

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