Trashing the announcements made by Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman for the Agriculture Sector as nothing but a pack of `jumlas’, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Friday said the so-called economic package offered no immediate relief to the distressed farmers, who were battling the stress of handling two major crops one after the other in extremely tough conditions.
With all the three tranches of the much-awaited economic package announced so far turning out to be a major disappointment for the targeted sections of the society, it was clear that the Centre had failed to come to the rescue of the people who were struggling with the unprecedented COVID-19 crisis and the resultant lockdown, said the Chief Minister.
The farmers need urgent interventions, and not so-called reform measures that have been long in the making and were not needed to be pushed through in haste at this critical juncture, said Captain Amarinder, expressing serious concern over the lack of anything substantial in the announcements for the farmers.
The Chief Minister said that as one of the most affected states, agriculturally, Punjab needed support for the farmers during the wheat harvesting /procurement, which the Centre failed to deliver. Despite repeated pleas, the central government did not provide incentive bonus to the farmers for staggered procurement, he pointed out.
Despite the Centre’s total lack of support, the farmers of Punjab pushed the limits of their courage and battles against all ends to once again provide the nation with a bumper wheat crop – a special necessity in this hour of crisis, said the Chief Minister. The state agencies worked day and night to ensure smooth and seamless procurement, without help from the Centre, he further pointed out.
Now that the paddy nursey transplantation had already commenced in the state, ahead of schedule to cope with the strict Covid protocols and labour shortage, the Chief Minister said once again the central government had shown no indication of helping out. As part of the agriculture sector package, the Finance Minister should have announced an increase in Paddy MSP, along with incentive bonus to check stubble burning, as sought by the state government, instead of coming out with long-term plans which would have no immediate positive impact on the lives of the farmers or those working in the allied sectors, he added.
Referring to the announcements made in the earlier tranches too, including those for migrant labourers, the Chief Minister said even those offered no concrete immediate relief. Two months of free rations, which in any case most of the state governments are already providing, is not going to stop the large-scale exodus of migrants from industrial hubs and cities. And in the absence of any clear incentives that could encourage the migrants to stay back, industrial and economic revival of the country will not happen even after the lockdown is lifted, he added.
The Chief Minister urged the Central Government to focus, at present, on addressing the urgent needs of various sections, especially those most affected by the Covid lockdown, and leave the long-term reforms to a more suitable time, when things have stabilised on the economic and social fronts.