Punjab Congress president Navjot Singh Sidhu on Sunday wrote a letter to Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, urging him to take action on the demands raised by 32 farmer unions at the meeting with the Congress party in Chandigarh last Friday.
In his letter, Mr Sidhu wrote, “This is to bring to your attention and request for necessary action, upon the demands raised by 32 Farmer Unions at the meeting called by them with Congress Party on 10 September 2021 in Chandigarh.”
“Firstly, they demand the cancellation of unjust and unfair FIRs registered against the farmer unions due to cases of violence during the agitation in the state,” said Mr Sidhu.
“Congress Party has supported the farmers in every endeavour since the beginning of the agitation and our government has facilitated the protesting farmers by providing maximum support to their protests against the three black laws and for the legalisation of MSP,” his letter read.
“Yet, some FIRs have been registered due to untoward incidences and government could set up a mechanism to consider each case on compassionate grounds and cancelling of all unfair cases,” he added.
“Secondly, farmers fear the demand for land records – “fard“, to demarcate details of land ownership before procurement as ordered by the central government is unjust, and I personally believe it is unfair and against a large number of farmers who are sowing crops by taking land on lease, and due to “Sanjha Mushtarkha Khata” with no clear land ownership as for decades, partition of land has not happened in many parts of our state. While many owners of the land are now living abroad. This is also an attack on the resilient system of procurement by MSP through arthiyas and to push the farmers away from APMC mandis towards private markets where no such records are being demanded.
“Thus, I strongly feel that the central government is actually creating “One Nation, Two Markets” with different rules for APMC and private markets. This injustice we must fight against,” said Mr Sidhu.
He further said that Punjab has allocated 10.9 per cent of its Budget expenditure for agriculture in 2021-22 with 30 per cent year-over-year increase, which is much higher than the average allocation by other states at 6.3 per cent.
“With Rs 7,181 crore to be spent on power subsidy for agriculture in one year, we have waived Rs 5,810 crore of farmer loans since 2017 and most recently Rs 520 crore of loans of farm labour and landless farmers,” he said.
“Noting the efficiency of government procurement done by the Congress government. Congress workers and leaders have stood by the farmer agitation at every stage of the protest. Yet, we must do more, standing firmer on our resolution passed in Vidhan Sabha in October 2020. We should not let the three blacks be implemented in our state at any cost,” he said in his letter.
“The victory against the three black laws will take us back to June 2020, while the deeper economic crisis of Punjab agriculture incumbent upon will remain as it is. We must take steps ahead from the farmer agitation’s fight against the three black laws to do more and present the vision for Punjab agriculture, to increase Punjab’s farmer’s income using every resource and power we have as a state to stand with the farmers. We must begin procurement of dals and oilseeds through State Corporations as MSP is announced upon them by CACP (Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices),” he added.
“Further, invest in diversification by giving MSP on more crops, giving storage capacity in hands of farmers, and strengthening farmer’s financial capabilities through cooperatives and forward linkages to trade without dependence on corporates. This vision I have been continuously presenting since September 2020,” he added.