Punjab govt takes pro-farmer stance, redistributes funds

Last Updated: Thu, Jun 16, 2011 20:05 hrs

The Punjab government may soon distribute the bonus of Rs 50 per quintal on the paddy procured in the rabi season of 2011. This was announced after Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal had a meeting with the farmers’ union last evening in Chandigarh.

With Assembly elections round the corner, the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) is busy making annoucements to please the community. The polls are likely in Feburary 2012

According to sources, the chief minister has acceded to quite a few demands of farmers that have been pending for quite some time.

But all this might come at the cost of the urban voters as the chief minister in a joint meeting of the SAD-BJP legislature party revoked the Rs 1,100 crore Municipal Infrastructure Development Fund.

The BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) legislatures may take it with a pinch of salt as the party has more influence among urban voters and an expenditure on municipalities in the last leg of its tenure might have helped the party to pacify the voters.

The President of Bhartiya Kisan Union (Rajewal), Balbir Singh Rajewal said chief minister Parkash Singh Badal has ensured them to release the pending amount of Rs 150 crore (second installment of Rs 300 crore drought relief fund announced by the state government for the 2009 paddy crop) and pay to the farmers in three months.

He informed that in an exhaustive discussion with the chief minister last evening, the farmers’ representatives explained the need to annul the existing Punjab Security of Land Tenure Act 1953.

He added, the law had become obsolete as there are very few large landholdings in the state now. Over 70 per cent of the farmers have land holdings of less than five acres.

He added, according to section 12 of the Act, land rent is determined as the one-third of the MSP (Minimum support price) by the CACP (Commission for Agriculture Costs and Prices). This comes out at Rs 13,000 per acre but the actual rent of land is between Rs 35,000 to Rs 40,000 per acre. So in effect, a wheat grower is underpriced to an extent of Rs 600 per quintal.

The chief minister, according to Rajewal, has directed the concerned department to amend the law.

Some other issues like refund of tubewell bills, litigation of land disputes, power availability may also draw attention of the state government as the farmers’ community constitute a significant vote bank for the ruling SAD.

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