Several farmers’ organizations on Tuesday decided to call off their proposed protest on August 3 after Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann conceded to most of their demands, including pending payments to sugarcane farmers. Mann held a four-hour long meeting with farmer leaders led by Bharatiya Kisan Union (Sudhupur) president Jagjit Singh Dhaliwal on Tuesday evening. Farmers had earlier announced to block national highways at three places in Majha, Malwa and Doaba regions on August 3 in the state if the state government failed to resolve their issues including non-payment of sugarcane dues.
After the meeting, CM Mann said, “I am committed to the welfare of farmers, and during my tenure they will not have to protest for their genuine demands.” Mann said sugarcane dues are Rs 195.60 crore, of which Rs 100 crore will be paid by August 15 and the remaining Rs 95.60 crore by September 7.
He further said that pending payments of government and cooperative sugar mills would be cleared by September 7. Mann said that apart from Phagwara Sugar Mill, private sugar mills have assured that they will clear the arrears by September 7. Phagwara Sugar Mill owes Rs 72 crore. 20 crores will be collected from the farmers and after the auction of their land.
Mann said the state government will withdraw all cases registered against farmers during the Covid-19 pandemic, or for protesting and burning parathas. “We have decided to cancel FIRs registered against farmers, be it during the Covid-19 pandemic, for burning parathas or for protesting,” Mann said.
Regarding the cases registered by the Railway Police Force during the farmers’ protest, Mann said he would take up the matter with the Government of India.
The Chief Minister added that the state government is also exploring ways and means to develop a workable mechanism to ensure that the practice of burning parathas is not adopted by giving proper incentives to farmers. He said that the process of certification of direct seed of rice is going on and the due amount will be given to the farmers soon.
Mann said the state government is trying its best to make agriculture a profitable venture by taking farmers out of the cycle of wheat and paddy. He said that the process of giving jobs to the families of farmers who lost their lives during the protest against the now repealed farm laws, added that all the rest of the farmers’ families would also be compensated soon.
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