23 March 2016 Current Affairs: The Punjab government on March 22,2016, passed a Bill with a framework to regulate and settle agriculture debts.The House also passed the Punjab Gau Sewa Commission Bill to protect cows. Neighbouring Haryana had passed a cow protection Bill earlier, after the BJP government had come to power.According to a Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) study of 2013, rural indebtedness in Punjab was around Rs 35,000 crore. This was the main reason for the death of more than 5,000 farmers in the past 10 years.Meanwhile, moving the Punjab Settlement of Agricultural Indebtedness Bill on the floor of the House on the concluding day of the Budget session, Agriculture Minister Tota Singh said the Bill aimed to provide a forum to determine and expedite settlement of debts of agriculturists and others dependent on agriculture.These people raised loans from institutional and non-institutional resources, he said, adding that institutional loans were regulated through various special legislation. However, non-institutional loans were largely unregulated with no easily accessible forum for remedy.According to the Bill, the interest payable on the debt shall be calculated at such rate as may be notified by the government," he said. "The interest payable on the debt shall be simple interest calculated on a yearly basisThe government would establish a District Agriculture Debt Settlement Forum at every district of the state to implement the Act, Singh said. The chairman of the forum would be a retired district and sessions judge or a retired additional district and sessions judge.