Even as smog as a fallout of paddy stubble burning has become a major issue across north India, Leader of Opposition in Punjab Vidhan Sabha and AAP MLA Sukhpal Singh Khaira justified his action of burning paddy stubble in Samrala recently and said it was a “symbolic protest” against the state government.
Khaira was in Jalandhar Sunday. He alleged that the Punjab government had not been providing machinery to farmers to manage stubble. He said the National Green Tribunal had asked the Centre and state government in 2015 to provide machinery to the farmers to manage stubble but till date government has not released any funds for such machinery. “Thus, farmers are being forced to burn stubble and I was protesting against this attitude of the government.”
He added that Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh had not increased “even a penny” in the State Assured Price (SAP) of the present sugarcane crop. Khaira demanded that government must review its decision and hike the SAP at par with Haryana, that is Rs 330 per quintal.
Khaira said it was “heart-rending” that while retail prices of sugar were at an all-time high of Rs 4,100 per quintal, the Punjab government was denying the farmers even a meagre increase.
Khaira alleged that a powerful private sugar lobby that that owns several sugar mills was behind this. He added that the nine state-owned sugar mills were running up huge losses, of nearly Rs 150 crore, owing to obsolete machinery and no backward and forward integration (co-generation plants and distilleries), leading to higher cost of