Lamenting that the restrictions on export of basmati imposed by the Union government is against the interests of the farmers, the Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Singh Mann on Friday demanded immediate roll back of this arbitrary decision.
Addressing the gathering during Kisan Mela organised here at the Punjab Agriculture University, the Chief Minister bemoaned that this illogical decision will do considerable damage to the economic situation of the farmers as well as the traders. He said that the Union government has fixed Minimum Export Price of the Basmati at 1200 dollars per ton which adversely hit the domestic price of the crop.
Bhagwant Singh Mann said that the union government must remove all these restrictions to safeguard the interests of the farmers from the state. The Chief Minister said that the hard working and resilient farmers of the state are already at a crossroads due to the ever escalating cost of the farm inputs and low MSP.
He said that the state produces maximum basmati in the country and this decision of the Centre will adversely hit the interests of the peasants of the state. Bhagwant Singh Mann said that on one hand the state government is making concerted efforts for crop diversification by encouraging the farmers to produce Moong, Basmati and other alternative crops but on the other these dastardly steps of the Union government are giving major setbacks to it.
The Chief Minister said that this decision of the Union government is anti-farmer and anti-state adding that the state government will vehemently oppose this move. He said that in wake of these restrictions the state government is contemplating to sell the basmati crop to states like Kerala, West Bengal and others.
Bhagwant Singh Mann said that the farmers of the state had played a vanguard role in making the country self reliant in food production but such draconian moves of the Union government is against their interests. The Chief Minister slammed the Union government for stalling Rural Development Fund (RDF) to target its opponents.
He said that despite the fact that the state government has removed all the ambiguities done by the previous governments, the centre has not released the funds yet. Bhagwant Singh Mann said that he had himself called on the Union Rural Development Minister who had assured him that these funds will be released soon but it never happened and the Union government has stalled the RDF of the state worth more than Rs 3622 crore.
The Chief Minister said that in order to cope up with the problem of paddy straw burning the state government had mooted the idea of compensating the farmers by giving them Rs 2500 per acre. He said that out of these Rs 2500, Rs 1500 was to be given by the centre government and Rs 1000 was to be shared by the state government.
However, Bhagwant Singh Mann said that instead of agreeing to this demand, the Union government rejected it without any logic. Reiterating the firm commitment of his government to ensure canal water at the tail end of the last field in the state, the Chief Minister said that the state government is duty bound for this noble cause.
He said already due to strenuous efforts of the state government water has reached the far flung areas of Fazilka districts. Bhagwant Singh Mann said that the state government is taking massive steps for optimum utilisation of the canal water to save the groundwater but at present Punjab is using only 33%-34% of its canal water adding that this will be enhanced in the coming days.
The Chief Minister said that corruption is the root cause of every social malady due to which the state government has adopted a zero tolerance policy towards this. Bhagwant Singh Mann said that the state government is committed for providing a transparent, effective and responsive administration to the people for which no stone is being left unturned.
He said that massive efforts have been made to eradicate corruption from the state especially from the Revenue department. The Chief Minister said that it is overwhelming to note that a large number of youth are showing their keen interest in the Kisan Melas.
He said that it is on record that 1.09 lakh farmers have participated in the Kisan Mela on the first day. Bhagwant Singh Mann said that introduction of technology in agriculture will help in transforming the destiny of the farmers and agriculture.
The Chief Minister also lauded the role of Punjab Agriculture University in heralding an era of green revolution in the country. He said that this premier institute is a lighthouse of new and extensive research in the field of agriculture which is immensely beneficial for the farmers.
Bhagwant Singh Mann said that every Punjabi is proud of the immense contribution of this university in the agriculture and allied sector.