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Punjab Congress vice-president Sunil Kumar Jakhar today said farmers were under distress and an "economic anarchy" prevailed in the state due to non- payment of dues and "stopping" of operations of co-operative banks. "The Punjab government through its procurement agencies owes close to Rs 14,000 crore to farmers in the state on account of paddy procured from them since October 15," he claimed after submitting a memorandum to this effect to Governor V P Singh Badnore. Besides, a large amount is pending as wages of labourers engaged in the procurement process and commission is due to 'Arthyias' (commission agents), Jakhar said. "According to the CAG report, the SAD-BJP government in its last nine years has embezzled and misappropriated Rs 31,000 crore-worth food stocks.
As a result, Congress believes the consortium banks, as a measure of abundant precaution, are not releasing payment to the procurement agencies," he said. "Not only are farmers under distress but the attempt to convert this loot into loans by the state government will result in huge escalation in public debt that will ultimately be borne by every person in Punjab. Thus putting the entire economy under distress in the long-run," Jakhar said. He said the cash crunch due to demonetisation of high- value currency notes has created an economic "anarchy". "An already stressed agrarian economy of the state is on the verge of capitulation and agrarian operations are lagging behind by up to 30 per cent. Farmers are not able to exchange their money, which is in scrapped Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes, and nor are they being able to pay their agricultural loans," he said. Congress alleged that the insensitive move has put "debt ridden farmers under economic stress and they are committing suicides". The party demanded that pending payments of paddy procured by state agencies be released immediately and operations at cooperative banks restored, it said. "New notes must be made available in rural areas and mobile cash counters should be set up in villages not covered by banks to allow exchange of old notes," he said.
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