Chandigarh, October 13 – Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) president Sukhbir Singh Badal today said the SAD would stand with the farming community and not let it be bullied into managing paddy stubble on its own without any assistance from the Congress government. In a statement here, Mr Badal said the SAD would not allow any cases to be registered against farmers for burning stubble in despair after failing to get any assistance from the State government to tackle this problem. “Our stand is clear. It is the responsibility of the government to help farmers to manage crop residue due to the huge cost involved in this task. In case it is unable to do this it cannot harass, threaten, penalize and register cases against farmers. We will protest any move to do this and will not let the brave farmers of Punjab who have provided food security to the nation to be victimized in any manner”. Mr Badal also simultaneously asked the Congress government to announce a financial package for the distraught farmers immediately. “It needs to be understood that the Punjab farmer is always ready to work for social good. However at this moment he is under deep financial stress and cannot be expected to pay for the management of crop residue after harvesting of paddy. The government must step in immediately and pay the actual cost of doing so by giving farmers financial assistance of Rs 4,000 to Rs 5,000 per acre. If the government does not do this then it cannot force farmers to incur this cost on themselves”, he added. The SAD president also asked the government to explain what it had done for the welfare of farmers in the last six months. “It should explain why it has not implemented the complete loan waiver of Rs 90,000 crore promised by it. It should tell why it is refusing to come to the aid of farmers despite that fact that more than 250 farmers have committed suicide in the last six months”. Asking the government to work towards resolving the current imbroglio over paddy management by taking a series of steps including paying farmers for managing crop residue, he said as per the National Green Tribunal guidelines financial assistance should also be given to farmers for purchasing necessary machinery including straw reapers. He also asked the State government to look into all pending demands of farmers and resolve them in a spirit of cooperation rather than getting into confrontation with them.
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