Exposing massive loot of the poor farmers in the name of giving them out of turn tubewell connections, the Aam Aadmi Party today released documents which show that farmers with less than 5 acres of land are being charged three to four times the regular charges taken from general category farmers.Addressing a press conference here today, Head of the legal wing Himmat Singh Shergill and Member of Punjab Dialogue Chander Suta Dogra said that the Akali Dal–BJP government is not only preying on the helplessness of thousands of poor farmers by forcing them to take expensive connections through the back door , but also brought out how PSPCL is giving more than one fourth of the total connections to be released under the Chairman’s Discretionary Quota on political considerations to Akali Dal cronies and leaders, ahead of the assembly elections. “We will release connections to poor farmers at the normal rate of Rs 45000 being charged for general category farmers, instead of Rs 1,50,000 and 1,70,000 for poor farmers fixed by this government in July this year. Appealing to farmers not to fall prey to the tactics of the corrupt Akali Dal- BJP government, she said that when the AAP government takes charge it will restore the normal rates for poor farmers and ensure that no farmer has to pay bribe or backdoor entry charges for what their rightful due is. Along with cost of tubewell bore, room and submersible motor etc a poor farmer with less than 5 acres will be spending Rs 3 to Rs 3.5 lakhs for these tubewell connections. “Is it viable? This will push them deeper into a debt trap and result in more suicides.
Giving details of the huge charges being levied on poor farmers, Ms Dogra said that the government has made two additional categories for farmers with land less than 2.5 acres with cutoff date 15th March 2016 and for farmers with less than 5 acres with cutoff date 31st March 2007, both of who are being asked to pay Rs 1,50,000. Under the Chairman’s quota meant for farmers below 5 acres the rate is Rs 1,70000.Ms Dogra also warned the top brass of the PSPCL from playing into the hands of the ruling Akali Dal by furthering its political interest, saying that the AAP government will launch a high a level probe and fix responsibility of those officials responsible for allocating more than one fourth – 50,000 -of the total connections to the Chairman’s quota and the politically motivated procedure devised to release them. She said that out of the 1.85 lakh connections approved for release in the last two years, 50000 are reserved for Chairman’s quota and only 30,000 in the General Category!! These connections are given purely on the written recommendations of Akali jathedars and halqa incharges and only then the Chairman approves.
Genuine requests sent by individuals are not entertained by the Chairman in normal course. Under general category connections are given to those who applied before January 1992.The favoritism shown to constituencies of top Akali leaders like Bikram Singh Majithia and Deputy Chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal is evident from the data which shows that out of 28,626 connections released so far under Chairman and Managing Director discretionary quota, a whopping 1712 have been given in Majithia assembly constituency and 1056 given in Jalalabad represented by Sukhbir Badal, both of which together add up to almost 10% of the connections released so far. More than 4 lakh applications for tubewell connections are pending with the PSPCL since 1992.Himmat Singh Shergill revealed that in the recent independent survey conducted by the AAP, out of 100 more than 80 favored formation of AAP Government in Punjab in 2017.Justifying the sending back the Organization Building Team members from Punjab, Shergill that as their task of organization building was completed, they were assigned new tasks at national level. There task in Punjab was finished as soon as the Candidates were selected. So far AAP has already announced list of 32 candidates and remaining list of candidates would be released shortly, he added.