Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal called on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Saturday morning and sought an agricultural relief package for the state. The chief minister said the country at large and Punjab in particular were on the brink of a farm emergency due to a combination of natural and human factors.
"The brave farmers of Punjab have always come to the rescue of the country and fellow countrymen in their hour of crisis. It's the turn of the country now to come to their rescue. And this will be in the larger national interest as it directly affects our food security," he said.
Badal said agriculture in the country was already in the throes of "one of the worst crises in recent history". "The nation's breadwinner is today himself facing the prospect of hunger, poverty and backbreaking indebtedness."
The chief minister sought a relief package of Rs 2,380 crore for the drought-hit Punjab farmers. He called for putting in place a permanent, in-built rapid-response economic system to meet farm emergencies, such as those caused by monsoon failure, floods or other natural causes. The chief minister said the Centre should make use of the advanced technology and modern evaluation techniques to provide timely and adequate relief to farmers in the face of sudden crisis.
Badal also referred to the relief announced by the Centre for some other states, including Gujarat, Maharashtra and Haryana, adding that leaving Punjab out of the ambit of this relief had caused widespread and profound anguish and resentment among the farmers of the state.