With the Delhi air quality dipping to dangerous levels and burning of paddy stubble in neighbouring states contributing to smog in the city, Chief Minister and AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal has sought an urgent meeting with Punjab counterpart Captain Amarinder Singh.
Yet Kejriwal’s own party leader in Punjab has been burning stubble in the name of support to farmers.
Sukhpal Khaira, Leader of Opposition in the Punjab Assembly, led a farmers’ protest in Samrala in Ludhiana on October 15 and burnt paddy stubble. Opposing the state government’s decision to book farmers who burn stubble, Khaira flaunted photographs of the protest. He can be seen lighting paddy stubble in the presence of AAP workers carrying flags with Kejriwal’s photograph.
Calling it a protest against the Congress government’s direction to register FIRs against farmers burning stubble, Khaira said the government should not harass farmers until it makes arrangements “for the consumption of paddy straw into the soil as per directions of the National Green Tribunal”.
Instead of providing equipment and machinery on rent to dispose the stubble, the Punjab government, Khaira said, had been penalising the farmers by lodging FIRs against them.
Reached for comments Wednesday, Khaira said the Punjab unit of AAP was an autonomous unit and had to protect the interests of farmers of the state. “We have also taken a widely different stand on the issue of SYL water being supplied to Delhi… Therefore, it is not an issue at all,” he said.
“The Punjab government has failed to carry out the instructions of NGT and farmers are suffering huge losses and committing suicide. Insofar as Delhi government is concerned, their stand is also right,” he said.
If the farmers were to plough the paddy stubble into the fields, it would cost them Rs 4,000-5,000 per acre and the state government says it cannot compensate them, he said.