In recognition of his outstanding contribution to ensuring hassle free and smooth procurement of wheat, the Federation of Aartiyas Association of Punjab today conferred upon Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh the title of 'Fakhar-e-Qaum'.The Chief Minister was honoured with a plaque, with inscription of title 'Fakhar-e-Qaum', at a mega felicitation function organized by the federation here at Kisan Bhawan. Thanking the aartiyas for the honour bestowed on him, the Chief Minister said a sincere beginning had been made by his government to safeguard the interests of the farmers. He cited the landmark decisions taken by the government, including abolition of Kurki and debt waiver to 10.25 lac farmers in the state. He also referred to the government’s decision to abolish the truck unions, which he said were arm twisting the aartiyas and industrialists, thus jeopardizing the procurement operations and transportation of industrial goods. The Chief Minister urged the aartiyas to extend full support and cooperation to the state government to bail out the distressed peasantry from the current agrarian crisis. He appreciated the age-old ties of farmers with aartiya community and hoped that these bonds would be strengthened further to win over the confidence of the beleaguered farmers.Captain Amarinder said his government was committed to provide a level playing field to all the stakeholders, including aartiyas, farmers and officials of the procurement agencies, to resolve their problems amicably. He also asked the Chairman Mandi Board to have a joint meeting of aartiyas and rice millers to settle all their pending issues to the satisfaction of both the parties.
Chairman Mandi Board Lal Singh said the Chief Minister did not possess a magic wand, rather it was his administrative capability and firm commitment to protect the rights of the farming community which resulted in smooth procurement operations and timely payment to the farmers. Lal Singh lambasted the Akalis for ruining the farmers and bringing economic ruin to the state. They also deliberately obstructed any discussion on the government’s white paper as that would have completely exposed their financial misdeeds, he added.Earlier, in his welcome address, President Emeritus of the Federation Bal Krishan Singla said that the gigantic procurement operation of wheat undertaken recently under the Captain Amarinder regime resulted in timely payment of Rs.14,000 crore to the farmers besides procurement of 20 crore bags. He recalled that Captain Amarinder was credited with ensuring ten flawless procurements of Wheat and Paddy during his last regime as Chief Minister from 2002-2007, which not only reinforced the confidence of the state peasantry in his government's farmer friendly policies but also helped in forging better and congenial ties between them and aartiyas. He assured the Chief Minister on behalf of the federation that the aartiyas would not charge more than the fixed monthly interest rate of 1.5% from the farmers.Earlier, federation president Vijay Kalra welcomed the Chief Minister and expressed gratitude to him for smooth and hassle free procurement of Wheat during Rabi 2017 immediately after taking the reins. He lauded Captain Amarinder Singh for announcing a debt waiver for small and marginal farmers through a budgetary provision of Rs.1500 crore despite acute financial crunch in the state.Among those who attended the function were Senior Advisor to Chief Minister Lieutenant General (Retd.) T.S. Shergill, Media Advisor to Chief Minister Raveen Thukral, Advisor to Chief Minister BIS Chahal, Secretary Mandi Board Amit Dhaka and Deputy Principal Secretary to Chief Minister Amrit Kaur Gill.