BADAL MAKES FIRM RESOLVE TO SAFEGUARD THE INTERESTS OF FARMERS
REITERATES THAT AKALI-BJP GOVERNMENT IS, WAS AND WOULD EVER CHAMPION THE CAUSE OF FARMERS AND FARM LABORERS
MAKES FERVENT APPEAL TO THE UNIONS TO LIFT RAIL BLOCKADE IN THE LARGER PUBLIC INTEREST
LISTS SEVERAL PRO-FARMERS INITIATIVES TAKEN BY AKALI-BJP GOVERNMENT FOR THE WELFARE OF PEASANTRY
ASSURE UNION LEADERS TO REFER THOSE ISSUES NOT WITHIN AMBIT OF STATE GOVERNMENT TO GoI
Chandigarh, October 12:Punjab Chief Minister, Mr. Parkash Singh Badal, today reiterated that the SAD-BJP alliance Government is, was and shall ever be committed for the welfare of the farmers and farm labourers of the State.
These views were expressed by the Chief Minister while presiding over a meeting with the representatives of coordination committee of 18 farmer and farm labour unions here at Punjab Bhawan this evening.
The Chief Minister said that the Akali-BJP Government had always been a votary of the farmers and their rights adding that their government had ever taken appropriate steps to safeguard the interests of the farmers. He said that apart from taking these welfare measures for farming community we were fully conscious that agriculture was no longer a profitable venture and categorically stated that whenever the farmers had been confronted with any problem or hardship, the Government wasted no time to come to their rescue which was evident from the bold initiatives taken by the Akali-BJP Government in providing free power to farmers since 2007.
Mr. Badal said that the Akali-BJP Government, since 2007 has provided free power to farmers worth Rs.28000 Cr., otherwise their problems would have been accentuated manifold if they had to pay electricity bills of tube-wells from their own pocket.
He pointed out Rs.4900 Cr alone had been earmarked for giving free power to energize tube-wells in the current year besides fulfilling its promise to give 8 hours un-interrupted power supply to the farmers. He said another 1.25 lac tube-wells would be given to the farmers during this year.
Mr. Badal also informed that the Akali-BJP Government purchased additional power worth Rs.1400 Cr. to overcome drought like conditions during the paddy season in 2014. Likewise Mr. Badal pointed out that the State Government realizing the hardships faced by the farmers due to untimely rain during the harvest of wheat in 2015, ensured the lifting of every single grain of their produce.
Referring to the issue of clearing the outstanding sugarcane arrears due towards the sugar mills besides ensuring smooth running of sugar mills in efficient manner, Mr. Badal said that the nine sugar mills in the government sector had already made payment to the cane growers worth Rs.540 Cr. Likewise, seven private sugar mills have already released Rs.988 Cr. out of
Rs.1133 Cr. and the balance of Rs.135 Cr. would also be released soon. Apart from this, the state government would ensure a timely payment of Rs.295 per quintal against Rs.220 fixed by the Centre to the cane growers during the crushing season of 2015-16. The Punjab Government would be paying Rs.45 per quintal directly to the farmers as the sugar mills will pay only Rs.250 per quintal due to low sugar prices. Similarly, the Government has already prevailed upon the owners of the Private Sugar Mills to start bounding in the larger interests of the cane growers. The union leaders were also apprised that the state government has also got arranged loan of Rs 200 Cr. from banks by giving state guarantee, which would be utilized by the private mill owners for clearing the cane arrears.
To cope up with the recent situation arises out of extensive damage caused to cotton crop due to attack from white fly in the in the State the SAD- BJP Government immediately ordered a special girdawri for the assessment of damage and disbursed compensation to the tune of Rs 644 Cr. to the cotton farmers. The DCs have been directed to ensure that the compensation is paid to actual cultivators.
The Chief Minister said that the State Government again lent a helping hand to the farmers thereby saving them from distressed sale of basmati by impressing upon the Government of India to purchase 1509 paddy at minimum support price. Mr. Badal said that the State Government fully realized that the State’s beleaguered peasantry was passing through severe economic distress due to the wrong policies of previous Congress led UPA Government at Centre. He added any monitory compensation could never compensate the loss of human life but at the same time our Government enhanced the farmers’ suicide compensation for Rs.2 to Rs.3 lacs. Amongst several other measures to save the crumbling farming sector his Government with persistent efforts got enhanced the amount of compensation under Natural Calamity Fund from Rs.3600 above 75% loss to Rs.5400 above 33% loss and the Akali-BJP Government was now paying Rs.2600 from its own budget to give Rs. 8000 per acre compensation to farmers in lieu of crop loss suffered by them.
The Chief Minister also informed the representatives of the unions that the concerted efforts on our part with the Central Government resulted in getting the compensation norms revised, under which now our farmers would be entitled to get compensation accordingly for any crop damage including vegetables and fruits. Apart from this, any crop which had been damaged due to hailstorm, frost and pest attack would also be covered under the compensation norms.
Referring to the cancellation of police cases against the agitating farmers and farm labourers as demanded by the unions, the Chief Minister said that an appropriate action would be taken at the earliest.
Likewise, he also informed the union leaders that the due compensation would be paid to 22 persons who were injured during a farmers’ agitation in Bathinda.
Summing up the discussions, the Chief Minister termed the inconvenience to the various sections of the people particularly women, children, students, patients, elderly people and traders as very unfortunate and agonising. Reiterating Akali-BJP Government’s firm resolve to accept every genuine demand of the farmers, the Chief Minister appealed the union leaders to lift the rail blockade which was causing huge harassment to general public besides causing a whopping economic loss to the nation. He said that the state government had already taken several steps for safeguarding the interests of farmers and it would leave no stone unturned to bail out the distressed farmers.
The Chief Minister reiterated that he was ever ready to resolve any issue related to agriculture being a farmer through a mutual dialogue. He said none excepting him could better appreciate their problems and concerns with regard to agriculture as he was well versed with them at the grass root level with over 60 years of experience in public life as well as a practicing farmer.
The meeting was held in very cordial atmosphere. After giving a patient hearing to the leaders of the unions, the Chief Minister apprised them that whatever issues/demands they have put forth before him and were within the jurisdiction of the state government would be amicably resolved. He however said that the issues which were not within the ambit of the state government would be taken up with the centre government for their early resolution.
Prominent amongst others who attended the meeting included Lok Sabha Member Prof. Prem Singh Chandumajra, Chief Secretary Mr. Sarvesh Kaushal, Additional Chief Secretary Development Mr. Suresh Kumar, Additional Chief Secretary Revenue Mr. Karan Avtar Singh, Principal Secretary to CM Mr. SK Sandhu, DGP Mr. Sumedh Singh, Secretary Power Mr. A Venu Prasad, Secretary Irrigation Mr. KS Pannu and CMD PSPCL Mr. KD Chaudary.