October 2, 2021 11:16:55 am
With five farm suicides having taken place in four days in the cotton belt of Punjab, state Agriculture Minister Randeep Singh Nabha on Friday asked deputy commissioners of all districts to visit the homes of the deceased and the start compensation process at the earliest.
“I have directed DCs of Muktsar and Bathinda to visit the families. If more cases are coming, we need to immediately take action rather than waiting…we are serious about controlling disease in crops and we will overcome it in another week…,” said Nabha.
He added, “Five hundred litres of spray has already reached fields and tenders of another 1.10 lakh litres have been floated. Spraying will be done only on crops in flowering stage as for the rest, the damage cannot be controlled…new stock of spray will reach the cotton belt by next week. We will scientifically control the spread of the disease within a week.”
The minister said that the agriculture portfolio was never given to a separate person and had always remained with the CM. “I will use my knowledge to help the farmers. I am also a farmer first and a politician later,” he added.
Pointing fingers at his own government, he said, “The total budget of Punjab is Rs 33,000 crore, out of which not more than Rs 300-400 crore are for agriculture universities. Hence a lot needs to be done for farmers. We will use AI in agriculture too…”
Protest outside Bathinda DC office: ‘Compensate farmers rather than spending on sprays’
Meanwhile, a protest took place outside the Bathinda DC’s office on Friday. Members of BKU Ugrahan protested against the slow pace of action taken by the Punjab government towards helping cotton belt farmers. Protesters said that they don’t need any spray but farmers need to be compensated at the earliest.
“Rather than spending money on sprays, give compensation to farmers. Spend that money on farmers,” said Shingara Singh Mann, senior vice-president of BKU Ugrahan.
BKU Ugrahan has demanded compensation of Rs 60,000 per acre for farmers and 30,000 per acre compensation for farm labourers. However, government rates are Rs 12,000 per acre for farmers.
BKU Ugrahan plans to start an indefinite dharna outside the residence of Punjab Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal in his native village Badal from October 5 onwards to seek compensation for crop damage due to pink bollworm attack.
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