Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal on Thursday said anyone found guilty of supplying spurious pesticides to the cotton cultivators in the state would not be spared at any cost.
Winding up the discussion on the resolution moved by parliamentary affairs minister Madan Mohan Mittal on current agrarian crisis in the state here at Punjab Vidhan Sabha, the chief minister said he had already asked the special secretary, agriculture, to submit a detailed report on this contentious matter by September 30.
To get to the bottom of the case, he had already ordered an inquiry to fix the responsibility of the erring officials and dealers involved in the sale of spurious pesticides by a special investigation team (SIT) of police, comprising three inspectors general of police (IGPs) under the direct supervision of additional director general of police (ADGP), crime.
Badal said since the inquiry was in progress, it would be unfair on his part to comment on the matter at this point of time. However, he said that exemplary punishment would be ensured to the culprits who were involved in this immoral act, which would serve as a deterrent for such unscrupulous elements so that they should not dare to commit such offence in future.
Joint expert group to recommend future strategy on pest attacks
The CM said in order to prevent the recurrence of such pest attacks in future a joint expert group of Punjab and Haryana has been formed to recommend future strategy. He said this expert group, comprising vice chancellors (VCs) and directors, research, PAU and HAU, deputy director general cotton, ICAR and director, Cotton Research Station, Sirsa as members, has been asked to suggest ways and means to tackle such problem effectively in future.
Reiterating the firm commitment to fully compensate the cotton growers affected by the attack of whitefly, the CM said a special ‘Girdawari’ was being done by the state government to ascertain the loss, which would be completed by the end of this month. He said the problem of whitefly had aggravated due to deficient rain during this season, resulting in harsh attack from whitefly on the cotton crop.
Badal said they had already released Rs 10 crore for the payment of compensation to the farmers, who had already ploughed back their cotton crop extensively damaged due to attack from whitefly in an area of 11,780 acres, spreading over six districts of Malwa belt.
CM urges Centre to present separate Agriculture Budget
Commending the adoption of this resolution unanimously to the Speaker, the CM urged the Government of India (GoI) to present a separate Agriculture Budget on the pattern of the Railway Budget, as majority of the nation’s population was dependent on agriculture. He said it was the need of hour to bail out farmers from current agrarian crisis.
Badal said the Union government should also announce a farmer-friendly crop insurance scheme based on plot or field as a unit for assessing damage to the crop besides ensuring remunerative minimum support price (MSP) to the farmers for their produce.
The CM also urged the GoI to evolve a mechanism of purchasing the alternate crops like maize and cotton at MSP so that farmers could be immensely benefitted from it. Badal said that provisions must be made by the Centre to ensure compensation of actual loss and include horticulture and livestock in the Calamity Relief Fund. “I hope that the Union government will take a call on these issues to bail out the beleaguered farmer from the agrarian crisis,” he added.
Slams Cong govt for breaking backbone of peasantry in Punjab
Slamming the successive Congress governments at the Centre for breaking the backbone of the peasantry of the state, the chief minister said due to the regressive policies of these governments, the farmers were reeling under a whopping debt of Rs 3,2000 crore. On the other hand, he said the SAD-BJP government has taken bold steps to get the farmers out of this crisis. He said during the last more than eight years the state government has provided free power to farmers worth Rs 28,000 crore, otherwise their problems would have accentuated manifolds on account of tube well bills.
Likewise, the chief minister said during drought-like situation in 2014paddy season, the state government purchased additional power worth Rs 1,400 crore to meet increased demand of farmers. Badal said when the wheat crop of the farmers was damaged due to untimely rains in April 2015, the state government ensured that every grain was lifted. “The state government took every step to resolve the impending sugarcane crisis by ensuring the payment of arrears to the farmers from private and cooperative sugar mills,” he said.
Listing the steps taken by the state government to safeguard the interests of farming community on one hand and supplement their income on the other, the chief minister said due to the strenuous efforts made by the state, Post Graduate Institute for Horticultural Research and Education was coming up at Amritsar. Likewise, he said prestigious institutes like Borlaug Institute for South Asia (BISA) in collaboration with CIMMYT, Mexico Indian Institute of Maize Research at Ladowal, Centre of Excellence on Vegetables & Citrus, Potatoes and Cotton have been set up at Hoshiarpur, Jalandhar and Bathinda. Badal said three mega food parks, two modern wood markets, seven maize dryers, besides 1,554 agro service centres have been set in the state.
The chief minister said the state government has enhanced the compensation from Rs 2 to Rs 3 lakh under the farmers’ suicide policy. Likewise, he said that due to concerted efforts of the state government, the NDA government under Prime Minister Narendra Modi had increased relief for loss from Rs 3,600 per acre to Rs 8,000 per acre. Badal said due to the endeavours of state government, the Union government has for the first time agreed to include loss of farm crop due to hailstorms, frost and pest attack in the category of natural calamities.
Future plans to bail out the farmers from distress
Spelling out the future plans to bail out the farmers from distress, the chief minister said after spending Rs 4,000 crore to strengthen the canal network in the state, the SAD-BJP alliance government was now spending Rs 2,175 crore for lining of Rajasthan and Sirhind feeder. He said head to tail concrete rejuvenation of Bist-Doab Canal would be done at Rs 320 crore, which would enhance the irrigation capacity of ‘lifeline of Doaba’ six times, from existing 3,5000 hectares to 2 lakh hectares, adding that the work on this ambitious project would start from coming October. Likewise, he said the work on Kandi Canal would be completed by April 2016.
The chief minister said it was a matter of great pride for them that under Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana, Rs 1,371 crore has been approved for lining of water courses, underground pipes and drip irrigation in Jalandhar (Bist Doab canal), Hoshiarpur (Kandi canal) and Moga (Sidhwan canal). “We are committed for the welfare of the hard working and resilient farmers of the state and all these pro-farmer initiatives will certainly help the farmers in bailing out from the current agrarian crisis” he added.