Reiterating his support for farmers and arhtiyas, Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Monday accused the BJP-led central government of encroaching upon the rights of states to dominate them, while criticising it for imposing the three farm laws and direct benefit transfer (DBT) on the state’s farming community.
States never faced such problems earlier, he said, claiming that the Centre was trying to destroy existing relations and systems that had worked well for more than a century in the name of so-called reforms, which it was trying to impose without taking the stakeholders into confidence.
Punjab’s farmers and arhtiyas (commission agents) have age-old cordial ties, which the Centre is bent on damaging, he said, saying its tough posturing is against the spirit of federalism. He said during his earlier tenures, he enjoyed the confidence and support of former Prime Ministers Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Manmohan Singh in all major policy decisions related to Punjab.
Launches Kisan Mela at PAU, Ludhiana
Virtually launching the two-day Kisan Mela at Punjab Agricultural University (PAU), Ludhiana, the chief minister said: “Had the Centre been sincere about a workable solution, it would have either consulted the Punjab government or the farmers, as the state alone contributes over 40% of foodgrains to the national pool.”
The chief minister said that Punjab, which was initially not even a part of the deliberations on agricultural reforms, was included in the high-powered committee only after he wrote to the Centre. Resultantly, state finance minister Manpreet Singh Badal and the then secretary, agriculture, KS Pannu attended the two meetings held thereafter but there was no mention of the farm laws, he said.
Pointing out that 144 farmers have died so far during their agitation, he said his government was giving ₹5 lakh and a job to kin of the deceased farmer, while the Centre continued to be insensitive.
Urges farmers to adopt drip irrigation
On the growing scarcity of surface and ground water, the chief minister urged the farmers to go for drip irrigation to save the state from becoming a desert in the near future. The depleting water table, resulting from melting glaciers, is a challenge for the state and the only solution is to get out of the paddy-wheat cycle to save this resource, he said. He asked farmers to make optimum use of drip irrigation, besides switching over to less water consuming crops such as vegetables and fruits.
He urged farmers to make minimum use of pesticides and insecticides according to the recommendations of PAU experts as their reckless overuse is not only a health hazard but also leads to mass scale rejection of foodgrains, especially basmati rice, financially hitting farmers.