The SAD on Friday asked the Punjab government to immediately disburse Rs 3,000 per acre to farmers for managing paddy straw, while asserting that it would stand by the peasants and not allow the state to register cases against them. The burning of paddy straw in open fields after harvesting is the main reason of air pollution in the state and in adjoining Delhi-NCR.
Former minister and senior Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) leader Bikram Singh Majithia claimed it was shocking that instead of offering money to the farmers to manage paddy straw or engaging machines to deal with it free of cost, the Congress government had shifted this responsibility to peasants and was now intimidating them with threats of cases and jail terms.
Urging the farmers to unite for countering these “repressive tactics”, Majithia said the SAD rank and file would stand with them and protest any move to penalize farmers. Blaming the Congress government for “failing” to take steps to avoid burning of paddy stubble in the state, the SAD leader said the government had a full year to tackle the issue, but has aggravated it.
“The government first delayed paddy transplantation by 10 days through a dictatorial order which has reduced the window for sowing of wheat and gives very little time to farmers to manage paddy straw,” he said. “The government then placed orders for 14,000 machines like happy seeder and super straw management systems but only around 500 machines have been received at subsidised rates,” he said.
Majithia asked the Congress government how it could “victimise” farmers when it had been given Rs 665 crore by the Centre to generate awareness on stubble burning and boosting use of subsidized machinery. The only option left for the state was to compensate farmers for the cost incurred by them in managing paddy straw, he said.
Alleging that the Congress government only believed in “hype and had zero performance” to its credit, Majithia said the government had announced formation of a one million paddy straw challenge fund last year to come up with technology solutions to manage crop residue. “Nothing has come out of it. Similarly the government has failed to encourage biomass plants or make arrangements for paddy straw to be used as fuel in kilns and other such measures,” he said.