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Monday, September 27, 2021

‘Resentment among farmers may be exploited by inimical powers before Punjab polls’

The Chief Minister said protests have been going on in Punjab ever since the Union Government issued the new farm ordinances in June 2020.

By: Express News Service | Chandigarh |
August 11, 2021 7:46:01 am
The prolonged agitation is not only impacting economic activities in Punjab, but it also has the potential to affect its social fabric, especially when political parties and groups take strong positions, Said Amarinder (File)

Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Tuesday asked Union Home Minister Amit Shah for the immediate repeal of the three contentious farm laws, citing social, economic, and security implications of the prolonged farmers’ agitation.

Expressing concern over the fear of inimical powers from across the border trying to exploit the resentment and disgruntlement among the farmers, the Chief Minister sought an enduring and expeditious solution to the farmers’ concerns, a government statement released after the meeting said.

The Chief Minister said protests have been going on in Punjab ever since the Union Government issued the new farm ordinances in June 2020. “While these protests have so far been largely peaceful, one can sense rising tempers, especially as the state moves towards elections in early 2022,” he warned.

The prolonged agitation is not only impacting economic activities in Punjab, but it also has the potential to affect its social fabric, especially when political parties and groups take strong positions, Amarinder added.

Citing reports, the Chief Minister said more than 400 farmers and farm workers had, so far, lost their lives in their fight for their rights ever since the agitation shifted to the Delhi borders.
He recalled that he had even earlier sought an appointment with Shah to meet with an all party delegation from Punjab.

Amarinder also flagged the urgent need to compensate farmers for the management of paddy straw at the rate of Rs 100 per quintal and to address the growing fear of shortage of Diamonimum Phosphate (DAP) – a fertilizer used by farmers – which will further aggravate the problems of farmers.

He urged Shah to immediately advise officials of the fertilizer department for enhanced allocation of DAP stocks to Punjab, as per the revised demand by the state, and to further ensure that adequate supplies are given as per schedule.

Pointing to the recent increase in the cost of phosphatic fertilizers subsumed by the Government of India into the subsidy only till October 31, 2021, the Chief Minister said that the firming up of DAP prices in the international market and the uncertainty about the extent of subsidy was contributing immensely to an apprehension of a likely shortfall in the ensuing Rabi crop season. The lack of response from DAP suppliers to the tenders floated by MARKFED has further aggravated these apprehensions, he added.

As a result of difficulties being faced by MARKFED to arrange DAP supplies through tendering, the state government requested the Department of Fertilizers to make an additional allocation of at least 3.5 lakh metric tonnes on a priority basis till October, and another 1.5 lakh metric tonnes up to November 15 this year, so as to ensure timely availability for sowing of wheat in the state.

The Chief Minister said that the state government had already requested an additional allocation of 0.75 lakh metric tonnes in August and 1.5 lakh metric tonnes in September, over and above its original Kharif demand of 0.80 lakh metric tonnes and 0.75 lakh metric tonnes during August and September, respectively. The enhanced allocation for August had not been approved so far, he added.

The timely availability of DAP would greatly help in reducing panic buying and black marketing, which would bring a bad name to both the state and the Central Governments, Captain Amarinder further stated.
Punjab at present requires 5.5 lakh metric tonnes of DAP for the forthcoming Rabi season. About 50 per cent of the total requirement is supplied through cooperative societies in the state. Since the consumption of DAP is mostly limited to a short period from the last week of October to the third week of November, when about 80 per cent of the area under wheat is sown, it is necessary to preposition DAP in different parts of the state by the middle of October to avoid any last-minute shortage and resultant delay in sowing.

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