Agriculture Minister Punjab Jathedar Tota Singh today accused the opposition for unnecessarily dragging him in the controversial purchase of pesticides for their narrow vested interests and political ambitions.Making a statement on the floor of Punjab Vidhan Sabha in his defence against the allegations levelled by the leader of opposition Mr. Sunil Jakhar during the debate regarding resolution on current agrarian crisis in the state moved by the Parliamentary Affairs Minister Mr. Madan Mohan Mittal here today, Jathedar Tota Singh unequivocally stated that damage caused to cotton due to white fly could not be merely attributed to spurious quality of pesticides purchased by the state agriculture department. Justifying the substantial damage caused to cotton crop in the Malwa belt due to pest attack as a natural calamity, the Minister brought it on record that due to unseasonal rains the harvesting of wheat was delayed which further resulted in late sowing of Cotton crop. Jathedar Tota Singh said that the situation further aggravated with scanty rainfall coupled with high temperature and moisture that led to damage beyond anyone’s imagination.
Jathedar Tota Singh said that that the problem of 'white fly' had accentuated due to deficient rain during this season resulting in harsh attack from 'white fly' on the cotton crop. He said that earlier the larva of 'white fly' used to be washed away with torrential rains, which unfortunately didn't happened this year, which led to substantial loss of the farming community. The Minister vehemently said that the entire gamut of events were nothing short of a ‘natural catastrophe’ but unfortunately the opposition was hell bent upon to paint the whole story in different colour and perception.Jathedar Tota Singh further revealed that after Mr. Jakhar brought this issue of grave loss to his notice and sought immediate ‘Girdwari’ in order to compensate the farmers, he immediately urged the Punjab Chief Minister Mr. Parkash Singh Badal to bail out the cotton growers in this hour of crisis. The Minister said that acceding to his request Mr. Badal immediately ordered special Girdawari for assessing the damage caused to standing cotton crop in the Malwa belt, to enable timely payment of compensation to eligible cotton cultivators forthwith.
Training guns at the opposition, Jathedar Tota Singh belied their story of entire damage caused to cotton crop due to spurious quality of pesticides. He said that out of total 11.25 lakh hectares of area sown under cotton crop, 92167 hectares (10-15%) were covered under the pesticides purchased by the agriculture department whereas remaining for 85-90% area pesticides were purchased by the farmers at their own level. Likewise, the Minister said that 1.36 lakh hectares (30%) out of 4.5 lakh hectares of area was affected by pest attack whereas in Haryana it was 3.06 lakh hectares (52%) out of 5.83 lakh hectares and in Rajasthan 100% crop of Guar was damaged.Jathedar Tota Singh said that he immediately ordered an enquiry to ascertain the quality of pesticides and rules followed for their purchase. Likewise, the Minister said that he had also ordered to immediately withhold the payment to the suppliers. He also informed that during a special drive to check the quality of these pesticides launched from April 1, 2015 to September 20, 2015 as many as 1984 samples of various pesticides were taken, of which 59 had failed.