The Shiromani Akali Dal on Tuesday alleged that the “faulty” policies of Amarinder Singh-led Punjab government had landed the state’s farmers in an “unprecedented crisis”, with their produce “rotting” in mandis. “For Punjab farmers, it is a ‘black’ Diwali this year. They are anxiously waiting in mandis to sell their paddy crop or have made a distress sale for peanuts,” Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) leader Sukhbir Singh Badal said.
“This is the result of the faulty policies of the Punjab government, which had consciously delayed the sowing of paddy just to save some power and obviously to augment the state exchequer,” he said in a statement here.
Badal dubbed the decision to delay paddy sowing as “penny wise and pound foolish”. “Farmers were punished for early sowing, but now the government is shying away from compensating those who sowed paddy late,” he said. Earlier this year, the Punjab government issued a notification delaying paddy sowing by five days, to June 20, to save millions of litres of water, which may have otherwise been used by farmers. Badal said field reports from across the state showed that this decision reduced the yield by 15-20 per cent and led to moisture content being 20-23 per cent, which is much higher than the fixed norm of 17 per cent. While the procuring agencies are not purchasing the moist paddy, the commission agents have cut the price by 10-12 per cent, he said. He claimed that this cuts down the returns from paddy for farmers by over 40 per cent and it can be catastrophic.
Meanwhile, main opposition Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) sought a relaxation in moisture content norm from 17 to 23 per cent.
“If the state government and the Centre are sincere about the welfare of farmers, they should immediately revise the moisture norm to 23 per cent,” AAP MLA and Leader of Opposition in Punjab Assembly Harpal Singh Cheema said.
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