Neena Vyas

‘Debt waiver and relief scheme for farmers is historic’

NEW DELHI: The 14th Lok Sabha may have seen many disruptions, but it would be remembered for passing landmark legislation benefiting hundreds of thousands of people, Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Vayalar Ravi said here on Friday.

At a press conference, Mr. Ravi pointed out that the Right to Information Act; the expanded National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, now covering the entire country; and the debt waiver and relief scheme, covering 3.6 crore farmers, were historic and landmark legislation.

Mr. Ravi’s ministerial colleague Pawan Bansal dwelt on the loan waiver for farmers. The nationalised banks have all the details on their websites and every bank was asked to paste a list of farmers whose loans were waived in their branch offices.

“I have personally checked this. It is a matter of record that Rs. 52,000 crore had been waived and Rs. 13,000 crore further relief given to farmers who did not qualify for full waiver. So far, Rs. 25,000 crore had been reimbursed to banks and the rest of the money would be done in phases as loans given by them matured. But the farmers were given immediate relief,” Mr. Bansal said.

Had it not been for lack of cooperation from some Opposition parties in the Rajya Sabha, where these Bills were blocked, the government would have passed the Land Acquisition (Amendment) Bill, 2007 and the Rehabilitation and Resettlement Bill, 2007, which would have prevented “lavish” acquisition of land beyond the needs of a project and mandated proper relief and rehabilitation. “It was disappointing and I was very sad that the Opposition parties did not allow these Bills to go through.” Although passed by the Lok Sabha, the Bills would lapse as soon as a new Lok Sabha is constituted.

The other “disappointments” were lack of consensus on women’s reservation, which the Congress was keen to see through, and a bill that would have protected Indians going abroad on employment.

Mr. Ravi said seeing the India-U.S. nuclear deal through was the biggest challenge he faced. This was also linked to the trust vote that determined the fate of the deal that helped India come out of nuclear apartheid and ink accords with France and Russia.

More In: Today's Paper