A special bonus of Rs 600 a quintal on paddy is what a group of Congress legislators has demanded for Punjab's farmers.
The state and the Centre should bear the cost equally, the members of the legislative assembly (MLAs) have suggested. Farmers in the state battle draught-like conditions.
MLAs Lal Singh, Parminder Singh, Brahm Mohindra, Gurkirat Singh Kotli, Navtej Singh Cheema, Sangat Singh Ghilchia, Sham Sunder Arora, Tarlochan Singh Soond, Ajitinder Singh Mofar, Sadhu Singh Dharamsot, Bibi Harchand Kaur, and Karan Brar highlighted the demand on Sunday in a press release here.
They have written to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and United Progressive Alliance (UPA) chairperson Sonia Gandhi, requesting intervention. "A team of Congress parliamentarians and legislators from Punjab will meet the two leaders," said MLA Parminder Singh.
Chief minister Parkash Singh Badal should have announced relief for farmers unilaterally by now instead of going to the Centre, senior Congress leader Lal Singh has said. "Both the Centre and the state should come to the rescue of farmers," said Brahm Mohindra, another senior leader of the Congress. "The government should appreciate farmers' role in preserving the country's food security."
The state government had failed to purchase enough electricity for running the tube-wells, said Parminder Singh, adding that in Punjab, irrigation was dependent on tube-wells the most. The shortage of electricity forced farmers to deploy diesel pump sets," he said, "which multiplied the input cost."
The power crisis had affected even the industry, said the MLA, adding that fresh taxes on cell phones and sugar would only hide the government's inefficiency, and deserved to be rolled back. He also wants the proposal for professional tax shelved.
"The professional tax will affect anyone earning even Rs 10,000 a month," said the legislator. "If it is imposed, there will be a massive agitation."