Scrap farm laws, talk to farmers for way forward: Punjab CM to Centre
Chandigarh: As farmers protested to mark one year of the farm laws, Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Friday demanded the immediate scrapping of the legislation by the Centre and called for detailed discussions with farmers to find a way forward.
Claiming that many farmers had died in these protests, the chief minister said it was high time the Centre withdrew the three laws in their interest.
The chief minister, wearing a #nofarmers_nofood badge, was inaugurating the 3rd state-level virtual Kisan Mela organised by Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana. The two-day mela is centered on the theme: ‘Karie parali di sambhal, dharti maa hove khushhal’, in line with the state government’s focus on eliminating crop stubble burning.
“Till date, the Indian Constitution has been amended 127 times, so why can it not be amended once again to scrap the farm laws and resolve the imbroglio resulting from them,” asked the chief minister. “What is the problem in doing it a 128th time,” he demanded to know from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led Narendra Modi government at the Centre.
Says protest democratic right of farmers
Recalling that he had been asked by the Centre to stop Punjab’s farmers from going to Delhi last November, the chief minister said he had refused to do so, as protest is the democratic right of farmers. “Why should they not protest? How can I stop them?” he asked.
Capt Amarinder said Punjab, with only 1.53% of total geographical area of India, produces about 18% of the country’s wheat, 11% paddy, 4.4% cotton and 10% milk. For the past many decades, Punjab has been contributing about 35-40% of wheat and 25-30% of rice to the central pool, he said.
The chief minister pointed out that the state had attained a record wheat productivity (5188 kg/ha) and production (182.6 lakh tonnes) during 2018-19. It also achieved a record rice productivity (4366 kg/ha) and production (133.8 lakh tons) during 2017-18. Record cotton productivity (827 kg lint/ha) was also achieved during 2019-20, he added.
Checking stubble burning, promoting diversification
In his welcome address earlier, Anirudh Tewari, ACS(D)-cum-vice chancellor, PAU, said that during the Covid pandemic, the chief minister had asked all departments to be innovative to ensure continuance of work and extension service to farmers and the virtual Kisan Mela was a step in this direction.
Referring to the Kisan Mela’s theme, Tewari pointed out that Punjab had been demanding ₹100 per quintal assistance for farmers for stubble management from the Centre, with the Chief Minister raising the issue with the Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He referred to the promotion of horticulture and exotic vegetables to wean farmers away from the wheat-paddy cycle.
Platform to support farmers
Dr Jaskaran Singh Mehal, director of extension education, PAU, spoke about the reach of the Kisan Mela, which farmers from across the country had been joining. The live telecast of the mela and the interactions with the farmers on YouTube and Facebook helped in a bigger outreach and impact, he added.
Dr Inderjeet Singh, vice-chancellor, Guru Angad Dev Veterinary and Animal Sciences University, Ludhiana, described the Mela as an important platform to support farmers. These Kisan Melas are a source of information on advances in agriculture.
The Kisan Mela will witness panel discussions on: Crop residue management, scope of horticultural and forestry crops, natural resource management, livestock production and subsidiary occupations.