Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann on Thursday said his government was making all-out efforts for the management of paddy stubble and sought farmers’ support while stressing the need for protecting the environment.
The chief minister on Thursday held meetings with various farmer bodies which put up demands including Rs 6,000 per acre for stubble management, increase in cane prices and compensation to dairy farmers whose livestock was affected by the lumpy skin disease.
Paddy straw burning in Punjab and Haryana is one of the reasons behind the alarming spike in air pollution levels in the national capital in October and November.
As the window for Rabi crop wheat is very short after paddy harvest, farmers set their fields on fire to quickly clear off the crop residue. Punjab generates around 180 lakh tonne of paddy straw annually.
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Replying to a question on farmers’ demand of Rs 6,000 per acre for stubble management, Mann, while speaking to reporters after the meeting, said a total of 1.22 lakh crop residue management machines have been made available for farmers in the current season.
Besides, a mobile app has also been developed whereby farmers can come to know about the availability of machines for the management of paddy straw within a radius of two-three kilometres.
He said out of the total paddy area of 75 lakh acres, no incident of stubble burning takes place over 35 lakh acres. Stubble is burnt over 40 lakh acres of area.
The CM told the farmers that the state government is making an all-out effort for paddy straw management.
He said the farmers should support the state government for this noble cause, saying it is the need of the hour for protecting the environment.
He said, “before going anywhere, smoke first affects our lungs and also the lungs of farmers’ children. Farmers also do not want the stubble to be burnt.” Earlier speaking to the media, Bharti Kisan Union (Sidhupur) president Jagjit Singh Dallewal said during the meeting, they demanded Rs 6,000 per acre for paddy stubble management.
Meanwhile, CM Mann said the meeting on various issues was held with the farmer bodies in a conducive atmosphere.
He reiterated the firm commitment of the state government to procure every single grain of the farmers in the grain markets.
Mann said that the state government has already made elaborate arrangements for purchasing paddy as soon as it arrives in mandis.
He also announced that during the ongoing procurement season, tractors of farmers will be allowed for loading and transportation of grains.
He said the concerned Act will be amended suitably only for the ongoing procurement season, adding that the state government is committed for the well-being of farmers.
He said disbursement of financial assistance of Rs 1,500 per acre to encourage farmers for direct sowing of paddy has also started.
Out of Rs 25 crore, a sum of Rs 13 crore has already been made while the remaining amount will be given within a week.
On lumpy skin disease, Mann said the state government will send a detailed list of the cattle that fell prey to this infectious disease to the government of India.
The state government will flag the issue of compensating farmers who lost their cattle wealth due to this disease with the union government.
On another issue, the CM said many cases registered during the farmers’ agitation against the Centre’s now-repealed three farm laws have already been cancelled, adding that remaining ones will be cancelled soon.
He said the families of the farmers who lost their lives during the agitation have already been given assistance worth Rs 5 lakh each.
Mann further said the kin of 326 farmers, out of 624 who lost their lives in the stir, have been given government jobs and the remaining will be given soon.
He said the state government will work on constructing a memorial in the name of farmers, who died during the agitation.
Mann also said the cattle fairs, which were earlier not allowed in the wake of lumpy skin disease, will recommence in the state from October 15.
In the meeting, it was decided that the cane crushing season will start from November 5.