WITH farmers of the Malwa belt refusing to back down from their protests, over cotton crop destroyed in the white-fly attack, Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal on Monday announced a compensation of Rs 600 crore for the affected farmers. This is a massive hike from the interim relief of Rs 10 crore that the government had announced just a few days ago.
The issue had deeply embarrassed the government after Akali Dal leader Balwinder Singh Bhunder and PAU vice-chancellor Dr B S Dhillon were publicly confronted by farmers, a development that forced Agriculture Minister Tota Singh to skip the PAU Kisan Mela.
Speaking at the Chhapar Mela annual political conference at Chhapar village, the chief minister on Monday said the Akali Dal would not “tolerate injustice to farmers’.
“Farmers should be highly grateful to a party like Akali Dal which has always stood by them. We are paying their power and tubewell bills and now this calamity called white fly attack on cotton crop has pushed them into losses.”
“But farmers need not worry as yesterday till midnight I was working with the treasury department. A final girdawari (survey of damaged crop) has been completed and aid of Rs 600 crore will be released. In fact the distribution has already started from today,” Badal said.
PAU vice-chancellor Dr B S Dhillon had come under attack from farmers after he allegedly said that ‘farmers themselves are responsible for the damaged crops as they did not follow the guidelines.’ Agriculture director Mangal Singh Sandhu was unceremoniously removed as farmers blamed the government for supplying adulterated and ineffective pesticides.
Highlights of rally
1. On Chandigarh airport being named after Bhagat Singh, CM said: “We have already written about it to the Centre. Now it is for them to take the final call”.
2. On Akal Takht pardoning dera chief Ram Rahim Singh, Badal said: “Being a Sikh, I cannot even discuss the decision, so no point commenting on it”.
3. Badal also claimed that Punjab now has so much power that it has become difficult to decide on where to use it.
4. CM said that with Pakistan on one side and J&K on the other, SAD has not allowed Punjab to suffer. “I also laud the bravery of Punjab Police for the way they handled the Dinanagar terror attack,” Badal said.