The ‘Kisan Sangarsh Committee’, a right wing farmers’ organisation supported by farm labourers, on Sunday held a ‘Lalkar rally’, cautioning the Modi government against going ahead with its proposed land acquisition bill, which aims to “deprive land owners over ownership rights of the very land they till”.
“The land bill is aimed at appeasing big industrial houses and friends of Prime Minister Narendra Modi who had helped him win the Lok Sabha elections last year. In return, Modi wants to take away farmers’ land and hand it over to the business houses. This will be opposed by farmers all over the country,” said committee president Satnam Singh Pannu, while addressing the rally.
Pannu also issued a stern warning to the government against scrapping the Minimum Support Price (MSP) regime, which was in the interest of the farmers, who at least got assured prices for their agriculture produce. “Rumours are rife that the Modi government may do away with the MSP, leaving the farmers at the mercy of private traders and commission agents,” he added.
He also demanded the implementation of the Swaminathan Committee report for determining the MSP of foodgrains and other produce of the farming community. “Basmati too should be brought under the MSP regime as over the years, the growers have been exploited by the private traders,” he demanded.
Sangarsh Committee, general secretary, Savinder Singh Chutala said the government’s diversification policy had failed totally as it did not ensure procurement of alternative crops by government agencies. “The government is asking the farmers to adopt cultivation of basmati-1121, maize, sugarcane, oil-seeds, beads etc as alternative crops to wheat and paddy, but is not willing to give the farmers assured prices for these crops,” he added, while pointing out that a number of farmers had suffered losses after they found no buyers for maize, sugarcane and other such crops.
A number of speakers claimed that owners of rice shellers were openly threatening the government that they would not purchase certain varieties of basmati. In such a scenario the growers would certainly go in for distress sale of basmati and would incur heavy losses, they said, while pointing that the government would be responsible if such a situation occurs.
The Sangarsh Committee, which has sizeable influence in the district, also demanded that the debt of farmers be waived off and a crop insurance policy should be introduced.
The committee also demanded adequate compensation for families of the farmers, who had commit suicide due to crop failure or for failing to repay their debt.