The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) today established a helpline to come to the aid of beleaguered farmers whose standing paddy crops are being destroyed on the orders of the Congress government, even as it asked its senior as well as district leadership to forcefully oppose this move across the State.In a statement here, former minister and SAD leader Bikram Singh Majithia said the party had created a helpline with number 9815399333 which would become operational today evening at 7 pm so that a concerted effort could be made to stop persecution of farmers for transplanting paddy as per the traditional guidelines. “Our senior as well as district leadership will rush to all spots brought to our notice and we will not let any farmer field be re-plowed in the name of a dictatorial order restricting paddy transplantation before June 20”.Mr Majithia said it was shameful that an elected government was riding roughshod over farmers by passing one sided orders without even understanding the reasons why they wanted to transplant paddy as per the traditional guideline of June 10. “The Congress government does not believe the anndaata who is feeding the nation and working in extreme heat wave conditions to produce food grain has valid reasons to starting transplanting paddy from June 10, even as its ministers make arrogant and dictatorial pronouncements from the comfort of their air conditioned rooms. The SAD however respects the sentiments of the farmers, understands they are in deep distress and will rescue them from the ongoing persecution launched against them by the Congress government”, Mr Majithia added.
Stating that the farmers had well founded reasons to start paddy transplantation by June 10, the Akali leader said foremost was the fact that all arrangements had been tied up around this date. He said paddy nursery had been sown as per this date and even labour contracts done with migrant labour. Mr Majithia said farmers also understood that timing was all important. “Delaying transplantation by ten days gives the crop less time to ripen and effects yields. It also ensures there is more moisture content making it difficult to sell. Also farmers who want to fit in a third crop by sowing paddy in time will be hit. The Congress government should clarify whether it will compensate farmers for increase in labour costs due to the reduction in the paddy transplantation window, loss of yield, loss due to failure to cultivate a third crop and also assure that moisture laden paddy will be procured”.In another important facet, the SAD leader said delaying paddy transplantation would also harm the environment and increase pollution levels. He said farmers would not get any time to dispose of paddy stubble due to late sowing and would perforce have to burn the stubble causing an environment crisis in the Northern region.Mr Majithia also condemned the Congress government for threatening farmers that their crop would not be procured if they sowed paddy before June 20. He said the government had already practiced deceit with farmers by refusing to honour its commitment to waive off their entire Rs 90,000 crore loans. “This has led to more than 450 farmers committing suicide. Actions like destroying paddy which has been sowed after incurring a huge input cost are only aimed at further adding to this number”, he added.Asking the Congress government not to act in such a heartless and inhuman manner, Mr Majithia also appealed to government employees to understand the plight of the farmers and not become part to destruction of their standing crops.