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.
Farmers resting under tents on rail tracks at Muchhal village near Amrisar on the fourth day of their rail roko agitation demanding higher MSP of Basmati and compensation to cotton growers for their crop loss, on Saturday.
The six-day-old ‘rail-roko’ agitation by Punjab farmers will continue till Tuesday, the union leaders announced tonight after talks with Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal who offered some compensation and promised to take up their demands with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.”We will carry on with our agitation till tomorrow,” said BKU Ekta (Dakunda) general secretary Jagmohan Singh who was part of the representatives of 12 farmers’ outfits who took part in the three-and-a-half hour meeting with CM here to find an end to the strike which has paralysed the train services. Singh stated this just before the meeting of farmers groups to decide the next line of action on the basis of the parleys held with Badal.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Asked whether any offer was made by Badal, Singh said government has offered to pay Rs 64 crore compensation for farm labourers but no assurance was given with regard to raising compensation component on cotton crop loss by pest attack and higher rates for basmati rice prices.”The state government is not ready to pay more than Rs 8,000 per acre on crop loss. The government is also not giving any assurance on giving higher rates for PUSA basmati1121 price,” the union leader said.At the same time, he said Badal assured them that he would take up their demands with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The unions have been demanding Rs 40,000 per acre compensation for farmers whose crop got damaged by whitefly attack, Rs 20,000 per family compensation for farm labourers, Rs 4,500 per quintal rate for Basmati PUSA 1509 variety, Rs 5,000 per quintal for Basmati PUSA 1121.Besides, they are also seeking payments of sugarcane dues by private mills, debt relief and Rs 5 lakh financial assistance to the family of farmers who commit suicide.On the issue of debt waiver, Singh said Badal assured them that he would take up the matter with RBI. “Badal said for loans regarding cooperative sector, a policy will be framed,” Singh said. To check exploitation by commission agents (Arthiyas), Singh said the state government would come out with a Money Lending Act in this regard.Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal on Monday again appealed to protesting farmers to lift their rail blockade saying being a farmer himself, he was ever ready to resolve any issue related to agriculture through mutual dialogue.Badal said this while presiding over a meeting with the representatives of coordination committee of 18 farmer and farm labour unions here this evening. He termed as “very unfortunate” and “agonizing” the inconvenience caused to various section of people particularly women, children, students, patients, elderly people and traders due to rail blockade.Reiterating Akali-BJP government’s 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 the state government had already taken several steps for safeguarding the interests of farmers and would leave no stone unturned to bail out the distressed farmers.Badal also said that he was ever ready to resolve any issue related to agriculture, being a farmer, through a mutual dialogue. He said none except him could better under their problems and concerns with regard to agriculture, as he was well versed with them at grass-root level with over 60 years of experience in public life as well as a practicing farmer.The Chief Minister gave a patient hearing to the union leaders and said issues or demands they have put forth before him and which were within the jurisdiction of the state government would be amicably resolved. He, however, said the issues which were not within the ambit of the state government would be taken up with the Centre for their early resolution.Badal said the Akali-BJP Government had always been a votary of the farmers and their rights, and taken appropriate steps to safeguard the interests of the farmers.”Apart from taking these welfare measures for farming community we were fully conscious that agriculture was no longer a profitable venture,” Badal said.He claimed whenever farmers faced 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.”The Akali-BJP Government, since 2007 has provided free power to farmers worth Rs 28,000 crore otherwise their problems would have been accentuated manifold if they had to pay electricity bills of tube-wells from their own pocket,” he said. To cope up with the recent situation arises out of extensive damage caused to cotton crop due to attack from white fly in the State, Badal said, the SAD- BJP Government immediately ordered a special girdawri for the assessment of damage and disbursed compensation to the tune of Rs 644 crore to the cotton farmers. The DCs have been directed to ensure that the compensation was paid to actual cultivators, he added.The Chief Minister said 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.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.”Any monitory compensation could never compensate the loss of human life but at the same time our government enhanced the compensation from Rs 2 to 3 lakh for farmers’ suicide”.Among several other measures to save the crumbling farming sector, Badal said, his Government has enhanced the amount of compensation under Natural Calamity Fund from Rs 3600 above 75 per cent loss to Rs 5,400 above 33 per cent loss and the Akali – BJP Government was now paying Rs 2,600 from its own budget to give Rs 8,000 per acre compensation to farmers in lieu of crop loss.The Chief Minister also informed the union representatives 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.