Punjab farmers block rail traffic over slow wheat procurement
Chandigarh, April 27 (IANS) Hundreds of farmers blocked the Amritsar-New Delhi rail track at Jandiala near Amritsar on Monday to protest against the slow pace of wheat stock purchases by government agencies in Punjab. Scores of farmers squatted on the busy rail tracks and refused to move, saying that they will continue the agitation till the Punjab government ensured smooth procurement of wheat. The protest was called by the Kisan Sangharsh Committee (KSC). Several trains were affected due to the protest by farmers. Talking to media at the protest site, KSC leader Swaran Singh Pandher alleged that the Punjab government was not bothered about the plight of the farmers. “Wheat grain is lying in the ‘mandis’ (markets) and the government is doing nothing,” Pandher said.
Farmers stage a demonstration on railway tracks to press for their various demands including relaxation in procurement norms and compensation for loss of crops in Amritsar, Punjab (IANS).
Farmers across Punjab are blaming the state government for not purchasing wheat from them. They said the wheat stocks are piling up in over 1,800 procurement centres set up by the Punjab government across the state.
The farmers alleged that neither was the wheat being procured properly nor were the farmers, who suffered damage to their crops during the recent erratic weather conditions, being given adequate compensation for the losses suffered by them.
Congress leader Sukhpal Singh Khaira alleged that not even 15 percent of the wheat stock had been lifted from Punjab’s grain markets and farmers were suffering.
Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal on Monday directed officers to make all out efforts to ensure the smooth and timely lifting of grains. Badal held a meeting with officers concerned here on Monday.
Farmers in Punjab, living in areas bordering Haryana, said they were not being allowed by authorities in Haryana to sell their produce in the neighbouring state.
In Haryana, over 44.37 lakh tonnes of wheat has been procured so far. This is 70 percent of the target of 65 lakh tonnes fixed for this year, food and supplies officials here said. During the same period last year, 48 lakh tonnes of wheat had been procured.
A spokesman of the food and supplies department claimed that 95 percent of the payment had already been made to farmers for the wheat procured.
“Against the due amount of Rs.3,837 crore, a sum of Rs.3,625 crore has been paid to the farmers for the wheat procured. Every grain has been procured at the rate of Rs.1,450 per quintal irrespective of the damage,” the spokesman said.