Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann on Saturday (March 26) announced that farmers will get compensation for crop damage due to vagaries of weather prior to the completion of girdawari, an exercise for the assessment of loss.
Mann also announced that a thorough enquiry will be conducted into the supply of spurious seeds and pesticides to farmers. He made these announcements during a function organised to distribute compensation to cotton growers whose crop got damaged because of the pink bollworm attack.
The CM said it is unfortunate that food growers get the compensation after a long and troublesome process of assessment of crop loss. He said this will be reversed and now farmers will get compensation prior to assessment as already being done in Delhi.
“If crops get damaged next time, girdwararis can be done later as happens in Delhi,” said Mann, adding that affected farmers would get compensation first.
He said this will be instrumental in saving undue harassment of farmers to get compensation after a cumbersome process. Mann said farmers in Malwa region lost their cotton crop not because of an attack by white and pink bollworm, but it was the supply of poor quality seeds and pesticides that was responsible for this huge loss.
Mann said a thorough enquiry will be conducted in this regard and strict action will be taken against those who had supplied these spurious seeds and pesticides to farmers.
In Mansa district alone, 1.36 lakh acre crop of 56,372 farmers was destroyed due to the attack. A compensation of ₹231 crore has been paid to farmers.
“For (cotton) crop loss, our destiny was not responsible. It was nakli spray and nakli beej (spurious quality of pesticides and seeds) that are responsible for it. We will hold an inquiry into it,” said Mann.
Mann said if farmers get quality seeds and pesticides and guidelines for usage of pesticides, then there will be no need for holding such functions as being held on Saturday. He said if the then government had performed its duty well and ensured supply of good seeds and pesticides then farmers would not have faced such hardships.
He said meagre compensation during the previous regime after such a whopping loss rubbed salt into the wounds of farmers. Mann said the previous governments had turned the food growers into beggars, and farmers had to face a lot of exploitation to get compensation.
The CM promised farmers to turn farming into a profitable venture. “We will not let farming be a deal of loss. We will not let agriculture be an occupation of compulsion. You will feel proud of doing farming,” said Mann.
Further, Mann said that the state government was holding parleys with the experts of various universities, including foreign ones to introduce new technology to motivate the farmers to cultivate high profit yielding varieties of crops. He said agriculture is the backbone of Punjab’s economy and the state government will leave no stone unturned to make it a profit-making occupation.
Mann said budgetary provision will be made to provide funds to the agricultural universities for carrying out new research and developing high quality seeds of various crops.
Expressing concern over the depleting underground water table, the CM said it is the only available natural resource of the state. He said for producing one kg of rice, 3,800 litres of water is needed and urged the farmers to grow less water guzzling crops, saying Punjab’s fertile land can produce any crop.
On his government’s decision to give pension to former MLA for only one term, Mann said, it has led to a debate in the country. He said the state exchequer is meant for the general public and will be spent only for their welfare. In Delhi, an MLA gets ₹54,000 as salary, including all allowances, whereas a former legislator gets pension worth ₹7,200.