The ghost of ‘whitefly’ which put the SAD-BJP government last year on backfoot might re-sting the Akali-BJP government as large number of whitefly victims in the region have charged of non-payment of compensation even after a year has passed.
It is worth to recall that last year more than thousand acres of cotton, gawar (cluster beans) and mungi (green pulse) crop in the Malwa region especially Abohar, Muktsar, Mansa and Bathinda was damaged and farmers suffered huge losses due to whitefly menace. Farmers had stated supply of spurious pesticides to cotton growers as the reason and later on a massive strike was launched by farmers paralysing the railway as well as road network in the state.
State government had not only announced a compensation of Rs 644 crore for the white fly victims but also suspended and nabbed the then Punjab Agriculture Director Mangal Singh Sandhu for the so-called discrepancies in procurement of pesticides besides setting up a special investigation team (SIT) to probe the matter launching a massive campaign against pesticide dealers involved into trade of spurious pesticides.
In the meantime, farmers who suffered loss for cotton crop by and large received compensation but the farmers who sowed ‘Gawar or Mungi’ crop are awaiting their compensation.
“I have made several rounds of government offices to plea for my due compensation but nothing frutful has come even after a year, charged Ganga Bishan,” owner of 10 acres of land at village Panniwala Malla, Fazilka.
“Every day state government is busy in making tall claims of no dearth of funds but it seems contrary as farm victims fail to get compensation,” aggrieved claimant of 5 acres of Mungi crop, Baldev Singh of Usmankhera village, Abohar.
“I owe a compensation for the loss of 5 acres of Mungi crop due to white fly attack but I have not received it,” charged farmer Surinder Bishnoi, of village Gumjal, Abohar.
“It is pathetic on the part of SAD-BJP government, earlier they alleged the crop damage due to purchase of spurious seeds for their vested interest and now they are humiliating whitefly victims by not releasing their due compensation,” charged Sunil Jakhar, Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee spokesman and Abohar MLA.
“The government owes Rs 44.54 crore to victims, who are owners of 55,000 acres in Fazilka including Rs 33.91 crore to Abohar farmers but authorities have failed to give that to victims, he blamed further.
‘If government fails to release the above, we will launch a massive protest, threatened Jakhar.
“We have received the amount of compensation from state government while all the required modalities are in the final stage and compensation will be disbursed among victims,” claimed Fazilka deputy commissioner Isha Kalia.