July 2, 2021 5:07:16 am
The Shiromani Akali Dal Thursday demanded an immediate financial package for paddy farmers who were being forced to use diesel generators to rear their paddy crop amid an unprecedented power crisis in Punjab. Party president Sukhbir Singh Badal accused the government of deliberately not providing farmers eight hours of uninterrupted power supply in order to “reduce its free power subsidy bill”.
“After betraying farmers by refusing to implement a complete loan waiver, the CM has now effectively made the free power facility redundant.
Farmers need power the most during the paddy season. Instead of the committed eight-hour uninterrupted supply, they are being given three to four hours supply forcing them to spend thousands of rupees every day on diesel generators to save their paddy crop. All this is being done deliberately as part of a conspiracy to avoid paying subsidy to the State electricity utility for free power given to farmers in order to keep the subsidy bill down,” said Sukhbir in a statement.
In Amritsar, party leader Bikram Singh Majithia said that the state was in the “grip of a power emergency”.
“A fresh burden of Rs 2,500 crore to Rs 3,500 crore has been put on farmers who are forced to use diesel generators and they should be compensated for the same,” said Majithia.
Majithia demanded that the state reduce value added tax on diesel by Rs 10 per litre and conduct a ‘girdwari’ (revenue assessment) of farmers who had ploughed their standing paddy crop due to lack of power supply. He said such farmers should be given an immediate compensation of Rs 20,000 per acre.
He announced that in case the government did not take these corrective measures, SAD would ‘gherao’ the CM and ministers. He said the party would also hold ‘dharnas’ on Friday to demand justice for the farmers, common man as well as the industrial sector which was being penalised with compulsory day offs.
Meanwhile, Sukhbir accused Chief Minister Amarinder Singh of “practically reneging on the free power facility extended to farmers by former CM Parkash Singh Badal by refusing to provide 8-hour uninterrupted supply to them during peak paddy season”.
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