31 August 2021, Chandigarh: In a hard-hitting response to his Haryana counterpart’s tweets questioning him on farmer welfare measures, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Tuesday ripped into ML Khattar’s claims, trashing them as a pathetic attempt by the BJP leader to cover up the sustained and persistently shameful treatment meted out to farmers by his government.
Terming Khattar’s claims and questions as nothing but a shoddy defence against the nation-wide criticism of the latest in the series of violent assaults on peacefully protesting farmers by his government, Captain Amarinder said the various statements made by the Haryana chief minister in the wake of the brutal lathi-charge on his own state’s farmers had once again utterly and unequivocally exposed the BJP’s anti-farmer mindset.
Instead of apologizing for the unprovoked and unjustified attack on the farmers, Khattar had been brazenly defending the police action and even tried to vindicate the Karnal SDM’s shocking instructions to the cops, which the world had seen and condemned, said the Chief Minister.
Rebutting the atrocious assertions of the Haryana CM that his government had done more for the farmers than the Punjab government, Captain Amarinder asked Khattar “if that is the case, then why are your own state’s farmers angry with you and your Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)?” Having failed to convince the people of India that it was Punjab and its farmers who were responsible for the prolonged agitation against the Farm Laws at the Delhi borders, Khattar was now resorting to blatant lies and exaggerated claims, Captain Amarinder said, adding that indulging in this petty data crunching will not condone Haryana government’s excesses against the farmers.
Far from ensuring the welfare of farmers, the Khattar government had actively damaged their interests, said the Punjab Chief Minister, countering the former’s claims with a list of pro-farmer initiatives and schemes initiated by his government despite the fiscal mess he inherited from the BJP-SAD government back in 2017.
“Your party left us without money even to pay our employees, and yet, we have successfully waived off Rs. 4624.38 Crores in debt of 564143 Small and Marginal farmers till date, with another Rs. 590 Crore sanctioned for loan waiver of 2.85 lakh landless farmers and labourers,” quipped Captain Amarinder, dismissing Khattar’s nonsensical claims of leading a pro-farmer government.
Pointing out that Haryana does not give a single paisa to its farmers in power subsidy, the Chief Minister said in Punjab, power subsidy of Rs. 7200 Crore of (About Rs. 17000 per hac) is being provided every year for Agriculture pump-sets of farmers.
Not only was Punjab leading the country in terms of procurement of key crops like wheat, paddy and cotton at MSP, it was also providing additional assistance to farmers to ensure smooth procurement in the face of the faulty policies of the BJP-led central government and the Food Corporation of India, said Captain Amarinder, disclosing that his government had spent Rs 62000 crore on wheat and paddy procurement in 2020-21, besides an additional Rs 1100 crore in Kharif and Rs 900 crore in Rabi seasons.
As for incentive for crop diversification, his government, said the Punjab Chief Minister, had provided a whopping Rs. 9.95 Crore to Cotton farmers and Rs. 4.06 crore to Maize growers in the last three years to promote alternative crops. This, he said, works out to Rs 7690 per hectare and Rs 7697 per farmer for maize and Rs. 4150 per hectare and Rs. 4600 per farmer for cotton. Further, as part of its “Paani Bachao Paisa Kamao (PBPK)”, his government was giving Rs. 4.00 per unit of electricity to farmers who save electricity by adopting water conservation techniques and sowing alternative crops other than Paddy, he added.
Ridiculing Khattar’s proud assertion that his government was paying 12% in interest against delay in payment, Captain Amarinder said that in sharp contrast to Haryana, farmers in Punjab were getting their payment directly into their accounts within 72 hours, eliminating the need to pay interest. “It is your government’s shoddy management of the whole procurement process and your typical apathetic attitude towards the farmers which causes the payment delay in the first place,” he quipped in response to Khattar.
Countering Khattar’s tall claims on Rs 5000 per acre incentive to the farmer who adopts direct seeding of rice technology, Captain Amarinder said thanks to the 40% subsidy (or Rs. 16000 on 900 machines), Punjab today has 6.01 lakh hac under DSR technology as against Haryana’s measly 1.00 lakh hac.
“And what is this Rs 1000 per acre for stubble management that you’re tom-tomming about? We give Rs 2500 per acre, which amounted to Rs 19.93 crore in FY20, given that 31231 farmers were benefitted. So how much did your government shell actually out for stubble management during this period?” Captain Amarinder asked Khattar.
Dubbing as ludicrous Khattar’s remarks that Punjab felt the need to match Haryana’s sugarcane MSP after farmers’ agitation, the Punjab Chief Minister asked his Haryana counterpart to check his facts before shooting from his mouth. Punjab, he pointed out, had not matched but exceeded Haryana’s MSP, and was now at the top of table amongst all States by fixing a SAP of sugarcane @ Rs. 360/quintal for the crushing season 2021-22. In fact, he added, the Punjab government had always been paying higher price to cane growers, over and above the FRP fixed by GoI, and would have hiked the MSP much earlier and even more had Khattar’s party not colluded with the Akalis for 10 years to ruin Punjab’s economy.
Referring to Khattar’s ambiguous statement on incentive to horticulture farmers, Captain Amarinder said his government had not only reduced the market fee for Kinnow crops to 0.5% but had alsi set up 8 commodity specific Estates (5 for Citrus. 1 litchi, 1 pear, 1 guava) to incentivize the growers by providing quality inputs and services.