THOUSANDS OF farmers gathered at Dana Mandi, Barnala, to protest against drive of the Centre as well as state government to stop paddy stubble burning. The rally was billed as ‘Pukar rally’ and was organised by seven farmer unions of Punjab.
The farmers alleged that instead of giving Rs 200 per quintal bonus to the farmers, the govenment preferred to add to profits of agriculture manufacturing companies in the name of subsidy. Sukhdev Singh Kokri Kalan, general secretary of Bharti Kisan Union (BKU)-Ugrahan, said, “Straw management system (SMS), which is to be installed on combines, was available in the range of Rs 60-65,000 last year when there was no subsidy on offer. This year, government floated 50 per cent subsidy on various machines including SMS and interestingly, companies quoted price of SMS as Rs 1.30 lakh without subsidy and hence after getting subsidy, we will get it at close to Rs 70,000. What is the use of subsidising the product when companies increase the price of product and hence there is no benefit to farmers? This shows that government is hand-in-glove with companies and hence they are here to benefit the corporate sector rather than farmers. Instead of spending crores on subsidy, they could have added bonus to our MSP, but the government has something else in mind.”
Farmers also raised slogans,”Majboor hoyi eho pukaar, prali da hal kare sarkar, hal nahi taan sarange dhakkeshahi pachhaarange.” Ram Singh Bhainbaga, farmer union leader from Mansa said, “I feel that green revolution is the root cause of paddy stubble in Punjab. Paddy was never a crop of Punjab as per rainfall quantity and soil conditions and moreover, rice is not even a staple diet of Punjabis. In order to make profits to the seed-making companies, paddy was introduced in Punjab and hence paddy stubble burning started afterwards. “
Amarjeet Singh added, “Moreover, NGT is being misguided by media and even government by showing pollution due to stubble burning, which contributes only 8 per cent of the total pollution in the state. There are no question about remaining 92 per cent source of pollution being done by sewer waste due to local bodies (government departments), industries, domestic pollution etc.”
Farmers in the rally thus resolved that if government fails to provide any solution, they will burn stubble as usual.
They added that given the machines, only 9 per cent of paddy stubble problem can be solved out of the total 220 lakh tonnes generation. Saudagar Singh Ghudani, Harinder Kaur Bindu and few others also spoke on the ocassion.