Agricultural experts and farmer union leaders on Monday dismissed the state government’s budget as “deceptive”, adding that reducing diesel price by Re one while cutting petrol price by Rs five was a cruel joke on the ‘farming community’.
While welcoming the allocation of Rs 3000 crore for waiving of loans of ‘landless farm labourers’ and the ‘families of farmers’ who had committed suicide, farmer leaders pointed out that budget ignored their demand of total debt waiver of small and marginal farmers, registration of private money lender as per Punjab Registration of Money lenders Act 1938.
“All farm machinery runs on diesel, be it combine harvesters, tractors, ploughers, happy seeder, straw management machinery. A one rupee reduction in diesel price is not going to change the fate of farmers in the state who are reeling under a crisis. It is a cruel joke,” said Sukhdev Singh Kokrikalan, General Secretary, Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU) Ugrahan.
“The real solution lies in increasing the income of farmers, which can come only when the mismatch between price realisations and production costs of agricultural produce ends. The budget is quite deceptive as it has not taken any concrete step for the welfare of farmers,” said Prof Gian Singh, an expert on agricultural economy.
He added: “The rates of diesel had increased from Rs 58 per litre in 2017 to over Rs 73 per litre in 2018, which is an increase of over 25% in one year and how a rupee one cut per litre would help farmers.”
According to the budget, Punjab will now waive off the loans of landless farm labourers and the families of farmers who had been forced to commit suicides. The Finance Minister set aside Rs 3000 crore during 2019-20 for this.
“We welcome the Rs 3000 allocation for waiving of the loan of landless, farm labourers and deceased farmers, but with this we propose that government should relieve the families of deceased farmers from all types of debts from various institutions and it should be a complete waiver for them,” said Jagmohan Singh, General Secretary, BKU Ekta (Dakaunda).
Rs 355 cr for cane farmers not enough
The farmers said that allocating Rs 355 crore for sugarcane growers was not sufficient, while pointing out that dues to the tune of Rs 100 crore for last year’s crop are still pending towards the government even as the current crushing season is underway.