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Farmers clear blockade from rail tracks post meet with CM

Pakka dharnas by BKU Ugrahan to continue outside DC offices in 13 districts

Written by Raakhi Jagga | Ludhiana |
December 29, 2021 6:10:25 am
Members of Bhartiya Kissan Union Ekta Ugrahan protest against Punjab government and CM Charanjit Singh Channi over their various demands in Patiala on Tuesday. Photo: Harmeet Sodhi

After assurance from Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi on a couple of demands, Kisan Mazdoor Sangrash Committee (KMSC) on Tuesday announced to postpone their rail roko for the time being.

Due to the protest, rail traffic was badly affected and more than 180 trains were getting affected daily.

KMSC members were protesting on the tracks since December 20 at seven different locations across the state. However, BKU Ugrahan, decided to continue with their pakka dharnas outside DC offices in 13 districts as they reasoned that till the time things are actually not implemented on the ground, their dharnas will continue.

Meanwhile, Channi held two separate meetings with KMSC and BKU Ugrahan on Tuesday at his official residence in Chandigarh. The next meeting with BKU Ugrahan is on December 30 and he will meet KMSC next on January 4.

Sarwan Singh Pandher, general secretary of KMSC, said, “In our area, farmers grow basmati in majority and due to hail storm crop of several farmers have been damaged. The government had fixed Rs 12,000 per acre as compensation, but on Tuesday they agreed to increase it to Rs 17,000 per acre. They have already agreed to take back all cases against farmers lodged during the agitation. However, our demand of complete waiver of loans of farmers has remained inconclusive. They also decided to pay sugarcane farmers Rs 360 per quintal against the earlier Rs 325 per quintal. Former Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh had increased it to Rs 360 but the same was not implemented. Compensation and jobs to the families of the victims of farm struggle is being considered. Therefore, we have decided to postpone our rail roko.” Since December 20, nearly 1,000 trains got affected in Punjab and that caused severe losses.

A nine-member delegation of BKU Ugrahan under the leadership of state president Joginder Singh Ugrahan met the CM. Shingara Singh Maan, senior vice president of the union, said, “Compensation of cotton crop damaged due to pink bollworm has reached DC offices but disbursement process is very slow. The state has so far given compensation of Rs 5 lakh each to families of 407 farmers who died during the struggle against farm laws at Delhi borders. However, jobs have been given only 169 families. The CM assured to issue job letters soon. He too asked that if anyone was left uncovered in the list of compensation, they can get their names added.”

In addition, withdrawal of all FIRs against farmers is yet to be done, added Jhanda Singh Jethuke, senior vice president of BKU Ugrahan. He added that Rs 1,200 crore loan waiver has been released by the Punjab government which will waive off up to 2 lakh loan of farmers with land less than 5 acres.
However, BKU Ugrahan members said that till the time their demands are not met they will not lift the dharnas as disbursement of compensation for cotton is still midway, loan waiver is too under process and jobs have also not been given to all families. A decision on lifting the dharnas will be taken after the December 30 meeting, Shingara said.

Channi in a press statement said that after discussion with KMSC on Tuesday, it was decided to extend relief of Rs 17,000 per acre also to the Basmati growers, whose crops have been substantially damaged due to hail storm during the past Kharif season.

The CM assured that he would soon take up the matter with Home Minister Amit Shah for prompt withdrawal of cases registered against farmers by Delhi Police as well as RPF during their year-long agitation.
He also agreed to include names of three farmers who died earlier during another agitation as a special case for consideration of similar relief in terms of financial compensation and a government job to their eligible family members.

Giving a major relief to the Abadkars, the CM directed the colonisation department to workout modalities for bestowing ownership rights on those tillers in occupation of land since long after allowing them to make payment in four installments in this regard.

Meanwhile, Kokrikalan said that they have a reservation over the way compensation of cotton crop damaged due to pink bollworm is being given. “The government is giving compensation for damaged crop of only up to 5 acres land and that too the disbursement hasn’t started as yet. We want this notification to be amended as compensation for the total loss should be given rather than only for 5 acres land,” he said.

Protesting against this policy, BKU Ugrahan on Tuesday even blocked all roads leading to mini secretariat. Kokrikalan said, “We asked agriculture minister to give clarification on this.”
When contacted, Bathinda DC Arvinderpal Singh Sandhu said, “It is part of the policy of compensation of damaged crop and I have conveyed the same to the farmers.”

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