October 14, 2021 8:08:50 am
Even as dharna outside the house of Punjab Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal to seek compensation for damaged cotton crop completed nine days, talks between farmer union leaders and Punjab government officials did not yield any results Wednesday.
Hussan Lal said, “Centre gives crop loss compensation at Rs 5,800 per acre and after adding state’s share we have offered Rs 12,000 per acre as compensation for cotton crop loss due to pink bollworm attack. However, union leaders argued over expenditure done on crop which includes purchase of seeds, irrigation facilities, pesticides, cotton picking etc. We told them that department of agriculture will look into these expenditures and discuss the issue again.”
As of now, nearly 4 lakh acres of cotton crop is under pink bollworm attack and girdwari will tell the percentage of damage in a particular field. Hussan Lal said, “Girdwari reports are still being compiled as the area is huge.”
He added, “We told the farmers that in year 2015 when white fly had attacked cotton crops, Rs 8,000 per acre was the compensation given to the farmers. Compensation is a way to help out the farmer to sustain the loss and move ahead for the next crop. It is kind of help from the government so that farmer can get some support for the next crop.”
BKU (Ugrahan) and all other farmer unions of Punjab are demanding Rs 60,000 per acre compensation for farmers and Rs 30,000 per acre for farm labourers. Shingara Singh Mann, general secretary of BKU (Ugrahan), said, “Our talks failed as government did not agree to our terms and did not discuss our demands. Rather, they continued explaining their position that they have no funds etc. Hence, our dharna outside finance minister’s house in Badal village located in district Muktsar is continuing as it is.”
Jhanda Singh Jethuke, senior vice president of BKU (Ugrahan), said, “We had no hopes from this meeting already, but still we went. Five of our members went to Chandigarh to meet the officials. It is sad that no minister came forward to meet us, though Punjab CM had stated that he is a common man. Punjab Agriculture Minister Randeep Singh Nabha and even finance minister Manpreet Singh Badal had no guts to face farmers. This shows double face of Channi government.”
In 2015, farmer unions had demanded Rs 40,000 per acre compensation while SAD-BJP government had given only Rs 8,000 per acre to the farmers and around 2,000 per acre was also given to farm labourers. Nearly Rs 630 crore were spent on compensating the farmers and farm labourers whose cotton crop had been damaged due to white fly.
Shingara Singh said, “We have to demand what is right for farmers. The previous government did not fulfil the demands but we continued our struggle. Even now, we are firm as input cost of farmers will not be met in this petty compensation, which agriculture department officials also agree but they are misleading us.”
District presidents of BKU (Ugrahan) from Bathinda, Mansa and Fazilka also took part in this meeting.
No next date of meeting has been fixed. Manpreet, meanwhile, has not visited his Badal village house since October 5.
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