Cotton farmers and farm labourers under the banner of the Bhartiya Kisan Union (Ugarahan) have decided to stage protests at all district headquarters across the state on March 28 against the Punjab government’s failure to provide them compensation for the cotton crop loss due to whitefly attack.
The farmers say that even after five months the state government has failed to implement the decision taken during their meeting with chief minister Parkash Singh Badal on the issue of compensation.
Shingara Singh Mann, district president, Bhartiya Kisan Union (Ugarahan), said the government has failed to compensate all the affected farmers whose crop was damaged in the pest attack last season.
“Despite the Badal government’s announcement that it would provide a compensation of Rs 64 crore to cotton pickers, not even a single penny has been distributed to anyone,” Mann said.
On CM Badal’s directions, two of the additional secretaries of Punjab government— Karan Avtar Singh (revenue) and Suresh Kumar (development) — had toured the affected areas in Bathinda, Fazilka, Muktsar and Mansa districts in December last year to formulate a policy for the disbursal of relief to farm labourers in case of ‘natural calamities’ in future.
Both the officials got suggestions and feedback from labourers then but they are yet to come up with any framework to identify labourers.
According the state government’s decision, farm labourers are to be paid 10% (Rs 800 per acre) of the Rs 8,000 per acre compensation amount to be given to the farmers for the crop damage.
Mann said the government should also assess the loss to the wheat crop following unfavourable weather conditions and the affected farmers should be compensated at the earliest.
Among other demands, the union is demanding withdrawal of Prevention of Damage to Public and Private Property Act, minimum support price of Rs 4,500 per quintal for basmati-1,509 variety and Rs 5,000 per quintal for basmati-1121 variety apart from clearance of sugarcane growers’ dues.