Union Minister for Food Processing Industries, Harsimrat Kaur Badal, on Monday asked the Punjab government to fix responsibility for the whitefly infestation in the Malwa region and take action against officials responsible for failing to prevent it. She also demanded that farmers be awarded immediate compensation for losses suffered by them.
Interacting with farmers at Akanwali village in Mansa, Harsimrat Badal also announced that she had also approached the Union Agriculture ministry and asked it to send a high powered team to assess the damage caused to cotton crop by whitefly attack.
Farmers and women also interacted with the Union Minister during her visit. Harsimrat claimed that a villager, Jagsir Akanwali, told her that many village residents were on the verge of suicide as they were very disheartened after CM Amarinder Singh’s recent visit to the area. The minister said that farmers complained and said that it was unfortunate that unlike former CM Parkash Singh Badal, who had ordered compensation to be given to farmers for whitefly attack loss even before girdwari started to assess the damage, Amarinder had not announced any compensation so far. Some farmers, according to the minister, also complained that Krishi Vigyan Kendras did not give them any technical guidance to them.
While giving a patient hearing to the farmers and also visiting affected fields, Harsimrat said the government should also enhance the compensation of Rs 8,000 per acre given to farmers after whitefly infestation in 2015. She said it was unfortunate that KVK as well as the State Agriculture Department was not fulfilling its responsibilities. The minister asked the government to take action against agriculture officials, who had failed to conduct their duties in a