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Punjab govt accepts 12 of 13 demands, farmers lift dharna at Chandigarh-Mohali border

Among the 13 demands, the two sides could not reach a consensus on the demand for a bonus of Rs 500 on every quintal of wheat on account of a drop in the yield due to shrivelling of grains.

Written by Kanchan Vasdev | Chandigarh |
Updated: May 19, 2022 8:11:48 am
chandigarh mohali farmers dharna bhagwant mann punjabMembers of 23 farmers organisations had started a dharna at Mohali on Tuesday. (Express Photo by Gurmeet Singh)

Punjab farmers, who were sitting on a dharna at the Mohali-Chandigarh border to press for their demands, Wednesday ended their stir after the Punjab government accepted 12 of the 13 demands.

While a formal announcement of the acceptance of the demands was made by Punjab rural development and panchayats minister Kuldeep Singh Dhaliwal, the precursor to it was a meeting between leaders of protesting farmers’ organisations and Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann. Among the 13 demands, the two sides could not reach a consensus on the demand for a bonus of Rs 500 on every quintal of wheat on account of a drop in the yield due to shrivelling of grains.

After the meeting, Dhaliwal reached the protest site to make a formal announcement of the acceptance of the demands. Earlier, farmer leader Jagjit Singh Dallewal had said that after meeting Mann, they held a meeting among themselves and confirmed that Dhaliwal would reach the spot and make the announcement.

During the meeting, the Chief Minister divided the state into two zones for sowing of paddy  instead of four. Now, half of the state would be able to sow paddy from June 14 and the second zone would be able to do so

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Punjab accepts 12 of 13 demands, farmers lift dharna at Chandigarh-Mohali border

from June 17. The farmers have been asked to divide the districts too into these two zones. Earlier, the government had ordered that the sowing would start from June 18 in a staggered manner in the four zones.

Among the other demands, the farmers wanted the government to allow them to sow paddy from June 10, instead of in a staggered manner from June 18, as announced by the Chief Minister earlier.

Mann also assured the farmers that they would be getting MSP on moong and showed them a notification on this. Dhaliwal said farmers will be given Rs 7,275 per quintal for moong.

While making the announcement, Dhaliwal said, “Mann sahib told the farmer leaders that this is a common man’s government. From now on, they would not need to sit on a dharna. Each demand will be met. We had a three-hour long meeting. It was not a meeting between farmers and the government but between the brethren.”

The protesters had demanded that the arrest warrants issued against farmers who had taken loans from co-operative societies be cancelled and loans up to Rs 2 lakh be waived.

The minister added, “He (Mann) said he wants to make farmers debt-free and has sought some time for it. A long discussion took place on the deadline of paddy sowing. After the discussion, Punjab was divided into two zones. The farmers have been assigned to divide the districts into these zones. These two zones will be allowed to sow paddy from June 14 and June 17 onwards. The border farmers having fields across the fencing would be allowed to sow paddy from June 10. Power supply would start three days ahead of these days.”

The protesting farmers demanded the government to lower the charges on the extension of electricity load from Rs 4,800 to Rs 1,200; 10-12 hours of power supply and release of outstanding sugarcane payments. The protesters were also against the installation of smart electricity metres.

Dhaliwal further said, “The government will not put up smart electric metres. We will lift every grain on basmati. The CM will meet Union Home Minister Amit Shah on the MSP for basmati and will also demand a bonus for wheat farmers who have suffered losses in the yield.” The Bhakra Beas Management Board (BBMB) issue will also be taken up with Shah, said Dhaliwal along with the issue on the MSP on maize. “We assure you that we will purchase maize on MSP,” the minister said.

The farmers had demanded a notification for the minimum support price for maize and moong and fixing of an MSP of Rs 4,500 per quintal for Basmati.

On the lines of the farmers’ demands, the minister said, “No arrest warrant will be issued against farmers for not paying loans. The farmers gave a suggestion on stopping acquisition of shamlat lands and for that, on Monday, I will hold a meeting with the farmers and officials of the rural development department,” Dhaliwal said.

Dhaliwal reiterated, “The CM has said that there is no need to sit on dharnas now. The demand about load on motors would also be fixed. The sugarcane farmers will get their dues.”

Meanwhile, Dallewal said the farmers’ unions have taken a strong notice of the CM’s statement last night (Tuesday) statement. “First half an hour was spent on Mann’s last night’s statement, we asked him to explain. We told him that the people’s anger will only cool down if the government comes down to the spot and announces these demands. We wanted the CM to come personally and announce. Then he assigned rural development minister Kuldeep Singh Dhaliwal as the CM had to meet the Governor.”

Members of 23 farmers organisations had sat on a dharna at Mohali on Tuesday. Dallewal had given an ultimatum that if the CM does not meet them Wednesday, they will break barricades at the Chandigarh-Mohali border and start walking towards Chandigarh. However, Mann called them for a meeting after the Cabinet meeting. The government released a picture of Mann hugging Dallewal after the meeting.

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