Sukhbir Badal calls emergency meeting of core committee to further intensify party’s ongoing agitation in favour of sugarcane growers
Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) president Sukhbir Singh Badal today called an emergency meeting of the party’s core committee tomorrow to further intensify its ongoing agitation to force the Congress government to increase SAP (State Assured Price) for sugarcane farmers to Rs 350 per quintal, disbursal of their pending dues of Rs 417 crore and immediate start of crushing in all sugar mills in the State.
In a statement here, the SAD president said never before had any government in the history of Punjab shown such insensitivity to farmers and said the core committee would now scale up its agitation which had already witnessed three party dharnas in front of sugar mills, including today’s dharna at Bhogpur. In the meantime, the SAD president directed the party rank and file to assist and stand with farmers who were agitating for acceptance of their just demands. “Party workers should assist farmers and fight against brutal measures being taken by the Congress government to repress them”, he added.
Stating that farmers were suffering and even being forced to commit suicide because there was no one to listen to their grievances, the SAD president said chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh failed to meet farmer leaders even 16 days after they were given a written assurance in this regard. “The Congress government has not taken even one step to mitigate the sufferings of cane growers. This state of affairs is intolerable and we will now take direct action to make the deaf government listen to the woes of farmers”, he added.
Besides demanding increase in SAP to at least Rs 350 per quintal, Mr Badal said the previous SAD-BJP government had given an enhanced SAP of Rs 50 per quintal in 2015-16 in a similar situation. “The Congress government should also do the same”. He said besides this the government should not only release dues of Rs 417 crore to farmers but also pay the same with interest to farmers. He also demanded that the crushing season not be delayed any longer. “It is shocking cane crushing, which starts in the first week of November, has been delayed by one month. This will now create a glut of sugarcane in mills and increase labour rates of farmers”, he added.
Asking the Congress government to wake up from its slumber and act to save sugarcane farmers from ruin, the SAD president said the entire crisis was of the government’s making. “First the government did not announce SAP. When it did it did not enhance the same as done by neighbouring States where the SAP is Rs 330 in Haryana and Rs 335 in Uttar Pradesh. This was not all. It did not engage with private mills when they refused to survey the sugarcane crop or enter into bonds with farmers to procure the same. All this amounts to criminal negligence”, he added.
Stating that this was the third straight crop in which farmers would face huge losses, Mr Badal said earlier the Congress government delayed paddy transplantation arbitrarily to deny power to its farmers and sell the same outside the State. “This resulted in lower yields and higher moisture content forcing farmers to pay bribes of Rs 100 to Rs 150 per quintal to get their produce procured. All this delayed wheat sowing whose yield will also be affected. The loss suffered by sugar cane farmers will also serve a death blow to diversification attempts with the area under cane likely to come down next year”, he added.