Rs. 50,254-cr. debt waived, says Chidambaram

Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI: Union Finance Minister P. Chidambaram on Tuesday informed the Lok Sabha that debt waivers to the tune of Rs. 50,254 crore had been granted by various banks as part of the scheme announced by the government.

Making his intervention in the Lok Sabha during the trust vote discussion, the Minister said debt relief was granted for a sum of Rs. 16,223 crore, taking the total amount disbursed till date to Rs. 66,477 crore. Amid protests from the Opposition members, he said the beneficiaries included 2,98,05,305 small and marginal farmers, besides 65,81,818 other farmers.

Far-sighted plans

Describing 2007-08 as a watershed year in India’s agricultural history, Mr. Chidamabaram gave details of the record food grains production that helped the sector register growth. “This has come about through far-sighted plans, missionary approach and attention to details,” he said.

Explaining the government’s decision to push ahead with the 123 Agreement with the U.S., the Minister said: “Under the customary international law as well as the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, any party may not invoke the provisions of its internal law as justification for its failure to perform a Treaty. The 123 Agreement is a Treaty. The Hyde Act is an internal law. You cannot invoke the Hyde Act in order to refuse to perform your obligations under a Treaty.”

After the 123 Agreement is ratified by the U.S. Congress, it will be the last expression of the legislature on the subject and under principle, it “will prevail over any earlier law passed by the same legislature.”

Asserting that the Hyde Act does not bind India, he added: “The 123 Agreement alone will delineate the rights and responsibilities between India and the U.S.”

Referring to the former Prime Minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s statement in the United Nations General Assembly after the 1998 Pokhran tests when he said “India is now engaged in discussions with our key interlocutors on a range of issues including the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty,” the Minister said the United Progressive Alliance was just taking forward the dialogue initiated by the National Democratic Alliance on the full range of issues.

Asking members if they did not want to put an end to India’s nuclear isolation, the Minister cited the Chinese example to show how that country was setting up nuclear power reactors to produce 1,60,000 MW of electricity by 2030.

According to him, Communist Party of India (Marxist) members said the two countries cannot be compared. The Minister said: “We cannot because there are some people in this country who do not want India to catch up with China, who do not want India to go ahead of China. There are some people who want China to become an economic super power but India should never become an economic super power.”

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