Hundreds of farmers, farm labourers and daily wagers burnt copies of the Union Budget on Thursday, calling it “anti-farmer” and “anti-poor”, in 19 districts of Punjab.
The protests took place at district heaquarters and 62 sub-divisions. All eight main farmer organisations of the state including Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKY) Ekta, Daukaunda, Krantikari Kisan Union, Punjab Democratic Sabha, Democratic Kisan Sabha, All Indian Kisan Sabha Kisan Sabha Punjab and several others participated in them, and said they will soon made plan for a “long struggle”.
They raised slogans against the Modi government, demanding reduction in “cost of diesel, seeds, fertilisers cooking gas, electricity”. They also said that the government should waive loans of peasants instead of big corporate houses and ensure procurement of paddy at a rate of 1.5 times of the total cost of production.
The protesting farmers also urged the government to stop evicting Arhatiyas and stop MNCs and corporate houses from controlling of the agricultural markets.
“Budget proposals this year have given no relief to agriculture and total expenditure for agriculture, irrigation and rural development has been raised by only 5.6 per cent as compared to last year’s budget which is very less compared to the cost of inflation,” said BKU Dakunda general secretary Jagmohan Singh, adding that they are ready for a long struggle and strategy for the same will be chalked out at a national-level meeting of farmer groups in Delhi on February 28.
“When all experts are talking about putting more money in the hands of the people (for increasing their incomes) to build the rural economy, the budget proposals will reduce welfare funds, leaving the peasants impoverished,” said Jagmohan.
“The government is all out to hit the farmers by reducing food subsidy from Rs 1.84 lakh crore to Rs 1.15 lakh crore, fertiliser subsidy from Rs 79,000 crore to Rs 71,000 crore and also there is a proposal to reduce Food Corporation of India (FCI),” said farmer leader Gurmail Singh, adding that even MNREGA funds have been reduced from Rs 71,002 crore to Rs. 61,500 crore.
“Ayushman Bharat funds have been reduced and there is no hike in insurance budget where companies have earned a windfall of Rs 18,830 crore in years under PM Fasal Bima Yojna (PMFBY),” the farmers said.
“The election bribe issued to the farmers under PM KISAN Samman Nidhi was allocated Rs 75,000 crore, but over 50 per cent farmers have yet to receive two out of three installments of this fund annually,” said Jang Singh.
To facilitate MNCs and corporates, the Modi government has proposed cluster farming, one district one crop and one corporate for marketing, which will hit the farmers hard, the protesters further said.
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