The talks between the Punjab government and farmers over the increase in compensation for the cotton loss have failed and farmers have decided to block rail traffic in the state on October 7 and 8.
Representatives of eight farmer unions observing a protest in Bathinda for the past 17 days met chief secretary Sarvesh Kaushal, additional chief secretary (agriculture) Suresh Kumar, SK Sandhu, principal secretary to chief minister, and other senior officers in Chandigarh on Saturday. In a meeting that lasted more than two hours, the two parties failed to reach a consensus.
Farmers have been demanding a compensation of Rs 40,000 per acre for the cotton damage and Rs 20,000 per acre to farm labourers. However, the government is providing only Rs 8,000 per acre to affected farmers in case of 100% damage to the crop.
Sukhdev Singh Kokakri, general secretary of Bhartiya Kisan Union (Ugarahan), who was among the delegation, said they held a detailed discussion with government officials over their demands, but it was inconclusive. “The officials told us that they were there to hear our demands so that they could brief the chief minister,” Kokakri said.
He said when they categorically put forward their demand that the compensation amount be increased, the officials told them that the chief minister would take a final call on that. “What is the point of holding a meeting when every decision is to be taken only by the CM,” he said.
Earlier, farmers’ representatives were adamant to meet the chief minister as they had rejected the pleas of the Bathinda administration to schedule their meeting with the chief secretary. However, on Friday morning the farmers agreed to initiate talks with the government.
Another farmer delegate Buta Singh Burjgil said that unhappy over the government’s response, the farmers’ association would intensify their protest by blocking rail traffic in 12 main cities and towns across the state.
“We have decided to end the indefinite protest at Bathinda and other places to make arrangements for the rail protest,” Burjgil said.
SK Sandhu, principal secretary to the CM, said the details of the meeting would be provided later.
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