Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Monday appealed to the representatives of farmers’ unions not to hold protests across the state against the three Central farm laws passed as the state and its people have already expressed solidarity with them on this issue.
In his address after laying the foundation stone of government college at Mukhliana village in the Chabbewal assembly constituency at a cost of Rs 13.44 crore, he said the state where its entire people stood like a rock with them in favour of their legitimate issues, should desist from holding protests across the state against these “black” farm laws passed by the BJP-led Central government.
Amarinder Singh said these ongoing protests at 113 places in Punjab by the farmers were not at all in the interests of the state, which has considerably impacted its economic development and hoped his request would be acceded by the farmers on agitation.
He, however, said since these laws have already been rejected by the state Assembly and replaced by the state’s own farm laws which were sent to the Governor for his assent but to “our dismay these have not yet been forwarded to the President”.
“Anything within the purview of his government was done by us promptly,” said Amarinder Singh, adding a delegation of various leaders from these farmers unions met him recently in Chandigarh to get the price of sugarcane hiked from Rs 325 to Rs 360 per quintal and it was accepted by him at once.
Expressing concern over the inordinate delay in meeting out farmers’ justified demands due to Centre’s “apathy”, the Chief Minister said instead of holding protest in the state, they should mount pressure on the Union government to get these anti-farmer laws repealed.
He also announced to name this upcoming government college after the name of Dr B.R. Ambedkar, the prime architect of the Constitution.
Launching a scathing attack on the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) for double crossing the farmers over the issue of farm laws, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Monday said the farm laws were drafted with the consent of the Akali Dal with Harsimrat Kaur Badal as the Union Minister.
He said even former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal argued in favour of these laws but changed their tune completely when their move backfired.
Calling the Congress as the only party who protested against these ‘black’ laws from the very first day, the Chief Minister said his government called an all-party meeting and then held consultations with farm unions.
Afterwards, the state government convened a special session of the Vidhan Sabha and passed bills aimed at countering these farm laws.
Taking on the Union government, the Punjab Chief Minister said that the constitution has been amended 127 times since 1950. “So why not one more time to repeal the farm laws for providing succour to the farmers who have been sitting at Singhu and Tikri borders,” said Amarinder Singh adding the state government has provided Rs 5 lakh to every farmer from the state who died during the agitation against farm laws, besides a job to the next of kin of deceased farmers.
The Chief Minister was addressing a gathering on the occasion of laying the foundation stone of the College of Agriculture of Punjab Agriculture University (PAU) at Ballowal Saunkhri in SBS Nagar district and kick-starting the session with admissions already made to 60 seats and classes set to begin from October 1.
Pointing out further, the Chief Minister said it would be the first time that a college of agriculture outside the PAU campus would come up with the BSc (Agriculture) course.
Speaking on the occasion, the Chief Minister said the opening of this college will prove to be a milestone in the development of agriculture in the Kandi area and will be helpful in strengthening its research on the problems and crops of this region as well as agricultural services for region’s farmers.
The college would boost the research on how to ensure more production with the judicious use of water resources as the lands are less and water is scarce in the region, added the Chief Minister.
Announcing a horticultural research station in Nawanshahr, Amarinder Singh emphasized apple research also as part of diversification. “The state government would now pay 90 per cent of the subsidy from earlier 60 per cent paid to the small farmers for erecting barbed wire fencing in order to protect their crops from animals,” said the Chief Minister, adding five horticulture estates have been set up to guide the farmers and provide them with the services for raising the fruits and vegetables.
As part of efforts to improve the market infrastructure, market intelligence services and processing facilities, two mega food parks have been set up as also agricultural marketing innovations, research and intelligence centres to help production, marketing and planning keeping in view the national and international demand and prices.
The Chief Minister also handed over cheques under debt waiver scheme as a token gesture to 25 landless farmers and farm labourers out of the total 31,066 beneficiaries in the district. These beneficiaries have got the benefit to the tune of Rs 64.61 crore.