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Punjab Govt Agrees for Jobs and Compensation to Deceased Farmers who Died During Farmers' Struggle

Over 700 farmers died during the struggle led by the Samyukta Kisan Morcha against three farm laws.
Farmer protest

After a prolonged meeting with the leadership of Samyukta Kisan Morcha, the Punjab Government on Tuesday announced the formation of a sub-committee under the supervision of Sanyam Agarwal, Special Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, to resolve the issues of jobs and compensation to the families of deceased farmers during the historic farmers' struggle against three farm laws, now repealed, at the borders of Delhi.

The farmers' bodies in the state have been agitating to provide jobs and compensation to the families. Over 700 farmers died during the struggle led by the Samyukta Kisan Morcha against three farm laws. Farmers' bodies believed that the laws would dismantle traditional government markets, impose contract farming and give agro-marketing companies unlimited capacity to store grains, which gave them the power to manipulate the prices of essential commodities. After a year-long struggle, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on November 26, 2021, announced the repealing of the laws.

Talking to the media persons in Chandigarh, Minister of Agriculture Gurmeet Singh Khudian said that the sub-committee has been asked to resolve the issue by March 31 next year. 

"Chief Minister Bhagwant Singh Mann sat with farmers' leaders and secretaries of various departments to resolve the pending issues. There is a consensus over opening new accounts in cooperative societies, which have been providing cheap loans, fertilisers and pesticides to the farmers. They have been demanding one-time relief on loans. We may provide relief from cooperative societies, but centre-run NABARD (National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development) has been denying any waiver. We will hold discussions with the centre to ensure that relief is given."

Joginder Singh Ugrahan, President, Bharatiya Kisan Union Ekta Ugrahan, said that farmers apprised CM Mann that 270 farmers are waiting for government jobs, whereas 135 families did not receive the relief. 

"We had demanded the resolution of two pressing issues. One-time settlement from commercial banks, cooperative banks, and NABARD. Second, a land to build a memorial in honour of the historic struggle. We were told they would search for an appropriate land beside the national highway and give it to Samyukta Kisan Morcha."

The farmers' bodies have been asking for one-time settlement of loans from lending institutions and maintain that repeated natural calamities and lack of remunerative pricing for crops forced millions of farmers in the state to take loans for health emergencies and family needs.

Talking to NewsClick, Baljeet Singh Grewal, Secretary, All India Kisan Sabha, said that the agrarian distress would have been less acute had they been given minimum support price as per the recommendations of MS Swaminathan commission. 

"The common farmers can sense that it is the policies of the government which have forced them into indebtedness. The bureaucrats sitting in the AC rooms of the Commission for Agriculture Costs and Prices (CACP) are unaware of the ground situation that our costs from sowing to harvesting have risen phenomenally, and the minimum support price is just not enough to let them sustain leave the question of prosperity."

The body had illustrated that the farmers in the state have been incurring losses of Rs 13,500 crore for wheat crops. 

Citing the prices for Rabi crops, the body had remarked, "The loss suffered by a farmer in Punjab is Rs 802/qtl and about Rs 38,496/hectare, taking into account the state's average yield of about 48 qtl/hectare. About 35 lakh hectares of wheat are cultivated in Punjab. The loss suffered by farmers of Punjab every year in wheat alone is to the tune of about Rs 13,500 crore.

"It is notable that Maharashtra's A2+FL cost for wheat is Rs 1934/qtl, and the C2 cost is Rs 3592/qtl. The MSP announced is Rs 1317/qtl less than even the costs incurred by the farmer. The BJP-Shiv Sena ruled the state had proposed an MSP of Rs 4131/qtl; at the MSP announced, a farmer in the state incurs a loss of Rs 1856/qtl or a loss of Rs 46,400/hectare. Maharashtra farmers suffer losses of Rs 4640 crore in wheat every year. So much for the 'Double Engine Sarkar' and their promise of Doubling Farmers' Incomes."

Grewal added, "If the banks can provide relief to the big industrialists who have created Non-Performing Assets worth Rs 10 lakh crore and sought writing off, why can the same relief be given to farmers? Why the land of marginalised farmers needs to be auctioned and his honour disrobed."

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