Alleging scam into the distribution of pea seeds and demanding high-level inquiry, as many as 200 farmers blocked the Jalandhar-Chandigarh highway at Chandigarh chowk during their protest here on Friday morning.
Earlier, the farmers and members of Kirti Kisan Union (KKU) had also gheraoed the office of the district agriculture department for two hours, demanding compensation of `50,000 per acre to them after their crop failed due to supply of seeds of ‘mixed qualities’.
Addressing the gathering, KKU’s state president Nirbhay Singh Dhudike said the Akali government was responsible for the crisis being faced by peasants in the state and if it failed to consider their genuine demands, they would intensify their agitation by holding such protests in the coming days too.
KKU’s district president Surinder Singh Bains alleged that farmers were supplied spurious seeds by the agriculture department that led to the crop failure and they were now forced to clear the fields to sow the wheat crop.
They rued that they had been sowing AP-3 pea seed quality for the last several years in their fields that used to give fruit within 45 days after sowing it in September, but this time they got nothing.
After protesting for an hour, the farmers also submitted a memorandum to sub-divisional magistrate Jiwan Jagjot, who assured them of taking the issue with the government.
This was the sixth protest of farmers against the department within 30 days over the issue.
The state government had already set up a high-level committee to probe the allegations made by the farmers. The committee would be headed by horticulture department director Gurkanwal Singh and would submit its report to the financial commissioner. The other members of the committee include experts from Punjab Agricultural University (PAU), Ludhiana, and officials of the state agriculture department.
A committee formed by the district agriculture department over complaints by farmers on November 17 had also reported that AP-3 pea seeds were supplied in ‘mixed qualities”. The committee said there was extreme anger among the farming community due to this. The committee prepared the report after visiting fields where AP-3 was sown.