Showcasing the apathetic attitude of the bureaucracy and its straitjacketed approach, farmers hailing from Bholath subdivision of Kapurthala district have received cheques of less than Rs 100 from the state government as "compensation" for their paddy crops damaged by floods in river Beas in 2011.
Farmers rued the apathy of the SAD-BJP government that claimed to be the well-wisher of the farming community.
It was learnt that nearly dozen farmers from village Mand Sardar Singh Wala had received compensation cheques ranging from Rs 27 to Rs 90. Some of them had lost all of their standing crops to floods.
"I have received a cheque of Rs 90 for my damaged paddy crop standing on six acres of land. While surveying the damage to crops, the patwaris kept the data away from us. We tried to confirm many times from them at that time but they did not reveal anything to us," rued a villager Gajjan Singh.
"This is mockery in the name of compensation. I have lost my produce worth above Rs one lakh, but I have received Rs 90 as compensation," he added.
Another farmer Kulwinder Singh, who has also received a cheque of Rs 90, said that hopes of area farmers were dashed by the havoc created by floods. "Now the 'handsome' compensation by this 'farmer-friendly' government has acted like the last nail in our coffins," he said.
Farmer Tirlok Singh said, "Me and my neighbour farmer had identical losses during the floods. He received a compensation cheque of Rs 7,500 while I received a cheque of Rs 54. I fail to understand the criteria they have adopted for compensation."
Farmer Chiman Singh received a cheque of Rs 38, Joginder Singh a cheque of Rs 27, Karnail Singh of Rs 36, Sukhwinder Singh and Tara Singh of Rs 90 each.
Former Congress MLA Sukhpal Khaira condemned the belated and meagre compensation to farmers. "It is an eyewash. Losses of small and marginal farmers ran from Rs 50,000 to Rs 2 lakh, but unfortunately, the government has offered compensation of less than Rs 100 to such affected farmers. This action of the government has added insult to the injury of debt-ridden farmers," he said.
Meanwhile, Bholath SDM Navjot Pal Singh Randhawa, when contacted, revealed that the compensation payments have been made after going through the land records registered with the government.
"Those who are given cheques for meager amounts must not be having full land in their names as per the revenue records. They failed to register their ownership with the revenue department. We have distributed the compensation amount as per the share of land they hold as per our records," he said.
Farmers, on the other hand, said, "We are going to return all the cheques by registered post to the Punjab CM so that he knows the mockery the state government is playing on debt-ridden farmers of the state."