The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) on Saturday asked the Congress government in Punjab to announce appropriate compensation to Malwa farmers whose crops had been destroyed due to white-fly infestation instead of insulting them by doubting their claims.
“Farmers are under great strain due to the failure of the Congress government to fulfill its loan waiver promise. Now farmers in the Malwa region are facing an acute white-fly attack. It is unfortunate that instead of consoling these farmers and announcing immediate financial relief to them, Chief Minister Amarinder Singh has ruled out any relief package by stating that the damage was very less”, SAD spokesperson Maheshinder Singh Grewal said here.
The Akali leader said the fact that the Chief Minister had erred in making this statement was proved from the fact that farmers uprooted their cotton crop in his presence at Sahnewali village in Mansa. “The farmers also raised slogans against Capt.Amarinder Singh and the Punjab government for the apathy shown to them. This is an unfortunate development. The head of the state is expected to rise to the occasion and provide relief to its citizens and should not ridicule them in their moment of suffering”.
Mr. Grewal asked the Pradesh Congress president Sunil Jakhar, who had accompanied the Chief Minister on his trip to Mansa yesterday, to ensure farmers got due compensation. “The request is being made to you because you got the CM to see the damage. You have been most vociferous in demanding fair compensation to farmers. During SAD-BJP rule you rejected the record Rs. 8,000 per acre compensation given for damage to crops during 2015 white-fly infestation as well as the overall Rs. 644 crore relief package. You maintained the compensation award should be at least Rs. 40,000 per acre. Please implement your own demand immediately and give succor to suffering farmers”, Mr. Grewal added.
Speaking about other steps which could be taken, the Akali leader said no SIT had been formed till now to look into the sale of spurious pesticides. “No spurious BT cotton seeds have been detected or seized. All this indicates that the State agencies are still not taking this issue seriously”.
Mr Grewal also asked what action had been taken against Agriculture Department officials who had been caught napping. “The State had a moderate winter due to which there was no ground frost which helps in breaking the reproductive cycle of the white-fly bug. The agriculture department should have taken necessary preventive action knowing the disease could manifest itself this season”.
Asking the Congress government not to indulge in photo-ops and get down to work, the Akali leader said “please give immediate relief to cotton farmers who have uprooted their crops on the pattern of the SAD-BJP government which provided compensation to such farmers even before completion of the girdwari process. Also hold girdwari to access the damage and come out with a comprehensive relief package”.