05 December 2020 07:53 am

Both state, central governments responsible for problem of paddy straw: Harpal Cheema

- Posted on 17 October 2020

Chandigarh, October 17: The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) Punjab has accused the state and central governments for the nagging problem of straw burning weighing heavy on the minds of farmers in the state.

In a statement issued from party headquarters here on Saturday, senior leader and Leader of Opposition (LoP) Harpal Singh Cheema, Deputy Leader of Opposition Bibi Sarabjit Kaur Manuke and State General Secretary Harchand Singh Bursat said that the directionless state and central governments were solely responsible for the plight of farmers in the state. The straw problem was a perfect example of this, they added.

The AAP leaders said that during the last three and a half decades, neither of governments had initiated effective steps to deal with the nagging problem of paddy straw and its efficient disposal. They alleged that the Amarinder Singh government had proved to be the most inefficient among the governments in Punjab so far, saying that they had neither formulated a workable policy for the benefit of farmers, and the climate, nor provided the farmers with the compensation for the tools as mandated by the Supreme Court of India and the National Green Tribunal (NGT) to deal with the imbroglio.

Harpal Singh Cheema said that on November 6, 2019, the  Supreme Court  had directed the state government that a compensation of Rs 2400 per acre be paid to the farmers for not burning paddy straw, while the NGT in 2015 had directed it to provide the farmers owning less than 2 acres of land with the required tools free of costs for the disposal of the straw, saying the farmers owning 2 to 5 acres of land were entitled for tools worth Rs 5000 and those owning more than 5 acres for Rs 15,000, adding that the false and frivolous statements over the figures made made by the government smacked of a big scam.

Harpal Singh Cheema and Bibi  Sarabjit Kaur Manuke questioned the Captain government’s claim on having procured  as many as 75,000 machines this year, which would reduce the paddy burning incidents by 40 per cent, saying that contrary to the tall claim the burning of paddy straw had trebled compared to last year, while the area under paddy cultivation area had reduced by 2.5 lakh hectares compared to last year.

Cheema said that the farmer was forced to burn paddy straw, when left with no option, which was detrimental to the farmer and his children, which during the Corona pandemic, impacting the children and the elderly.

Harchand Singh Bursat and Bibi Manuke demanded that disposal of straw incurred an expense of between Rs 6,000 to 7,000 per acre, which could be offset by a compensation of Rs. 200 per quintal on paddy to farmers. The AAP leaders said that had the government sensitised about the issue, it would not have rejected the proposal to run the Bathinda thermal plant on straw. 

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