Chandigarh, October 30, 2014 (Yes Punjab News)
The Punjab Pradesh Congress President, Mr Partap Singh Bajwa, today rejected what he described as a meagre Rs. 50 per quintal hike in the procurement price of wheat and said it was as a cruel joke on the farmers who feed the nation.
Addressing a press conference here, he said that the Prime Minister, Mr Narendra Modi, had given full page advertisement in the newspapers in the run up to the Lok Sabha election promising the farmers to implement the MS Swaminathan committee report which had recommended at least 50 per cent profit to the farmers above the cost of production.
He proposed that the Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, should lead an all-party delegation to the Prime Minister on this issue of urgent and immediate importance. He said it was shocking that Mr Badal had maintained a stony silence. He pointed out that during the NDA regime from 1999-2000 to 2003-04, the MSP of wheat had been increased only by Rs. 50. However, as against this, the farmers benefitted to the tune of Rs. 645 per quintal on wheat during the Congress led UPA regime from 2004-05 to 2012-13 which proved that the NDA had never watched the interests of the farmers.
He attacked the state government for the harassment of the farmers in the mandis resulting from tardy procurement. He said in Bathinda, the constituency of the Union Minister Mrs Harsimrat Kaur Badal, there was no space in the mandis and the farmers were unloading their produce on the roadsides. Basmati was selling at Rs 1000 per quintal less than last year. He said similar was the fate of the cotton growers. The millers had also been hit hard as the centre had reduced the shelling charges from Rs. 15 to Rs. 10 per quintal. He said already, 18770 factories had been closed down in the state and similar fate awaited the rice shelling industry.
Mr Bajwa proposed that the all-party delegation should take up the issue of transfer of Chandigarh to Punjab which was built as the capital of this state. He pointed out that this issue had also been raised by the state unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party which was part of the ruling alliance in Punjab and headed the governments at the centre and in Haryana. He said Mr Badal should get the seek assurance from Mr Modi for the transfer of the city by January 26, 2015 as a new year gift to his state from a friendly government at the centre.
He also wanted the delegation to raise the issue of Punjabi farmers settled in Gujarat being facing uncertainty regarding their lands as they were under threat of being uprooted from their lands which they had turned cultivable through their hard labour. Moreover, they were settled there on the invitation of the then central government. He said the main hurdle was the appeal filed by the Gujarat government against the verdict of the Gujarat High Court in favour of the farmers. The Chief Minister at that time was Mr Modi. It was the Gujarat government that went in appeal against the High Court verdict. He said the matter could be settled with the Gujarat government withdrawing its appeal.
He also demanded industrial concessions to Punjab on the pattern of the neighbouring states which were given by the Atal Behari Vajpayee government. He also demanded withdrawal of 12.5 per cent service tax on foreign remittances. He expressed the apprehension that this tax would encourage illegal hawala transactions. He wanted the all-party delegation to take up these two issues also.
He wanted withdrawal of VAT on diesel and said the tax on petrol be brought at par with Chandigarh. Regarding the issuance of no objection certificates for the regularisation of colonies, he said the Badal government had once again cheated the people. While the promise was to give a year’s time frame, now only a period of three months has been given while the fee had been doubled. He alleged it was during the periods 1997-02 and again after 2007 that illegal colonies had mushroomed in the state due to unfriendly policies of the Akali Dal-BJP government. The procedure had been simplified during the Congress regime from 2002 to 2007 and as the fee was also negligible, the colonisers preferred to develop approved colonies.
Mr Bajwa called upon the government to regularise all colonies that had come up after 2007 without any fee as the people should not be penalised for the wrong policies of this government.