The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) today castigated the Congress government for using the T Haq committee, which was formed to recommend ways and means to waive off farmer loans, to impose power bills on Punjab farmers.In a statement here, former minister and party spokesman Dr Daljit Singh Cheema said it was astonishing that a Committee which was formed to suggest ways and means to ameliorate the lot of Punjab farmers who are in deep economic stress was recommending doing away with farm subsidy. "This shocking development could have only occurred at the behest of the government which is desperate to do away with free power facility on one pretext or another. It is unfortunate that the Haq Committee has been used as a tool to implement this conspiracy", he added.The Akali leader said the recent actions of the Congress government and its functionaries could also be evaluated in this light since the Haq Committee submitted its report to the government one month back but its contents had become public only now. "Power minister Rana Gurjit Singh has given a public statement that power bills should be imposed on various farmer categories. The government has refused to give power subsidy for new tubewell connections and now power bill will be imposed on them. The stand of finance minister Manpreet Badal on the issue of farm subsidy is very clear.
The FM has consistently opposed free power facility to farmers", Dr Cheema added.Condemning the government of doing one thing and professing another, the Akali leader said the ground was being laid to impose power bills on State farmers by implementing the recommendations of the Haq Committee even as the government routinely claimed that the free power facility would stay. "How can the free power facility stay when the Haq Committee, the Power minister and even the Finance minister are against continuing with it?", he asked.Asking the government not to play with fire, Dr Cheema said the free power facility extended to farmers by S Parkash Singh Badal played a major role in keeping farm inputs down. "Also this is the only measure open to the State government to give relief to farmers. Withdrawing this facility at this moment when more than 250 farmers have committed suicide after the government reneged on its complete loan waiver promise will be catastrophic". Stating that the SAD would not let this conspiracy to introduce power bills for farm connections in the name of following recommendations of the Haq committee succeed, he said "we will launch a mass movement to stop the government from going ahead with its nefarious designs. The government must also immediately announce that it will not implement the Haq Committee recommendations on free power and reject the report forthwith for going beyond its mandate", Dr Cheema added.