The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) on Wednesday demanded compensation of Rs 3,000 per acre to all farmers to offset the loss being incurred by them due to flight of migrant labour from the state.

Alleging that migrant labour had fled Punjab as the state government refused to distribute ration to them or offer any other monetary relief, SAD’s farmers’ wing chief, Sikander Singh Maluka, said the government had chosen to send the migrants packing to their home states rather than giving them an incentive to stay back.

“Chief Minister Amarinder Singh is directly responsible for this. Now the state must come to the aid of the farmers as paddy transplantation rates have gone up from Rs 2,500 per acre to Rs 5,500 per acre. The farmers, who are already reeling under huge labour costs incurred to harvest and sell paddy during the lockdown, are unable to bear this extra cost,” he said.

Maluka said the government should offer compensation to farmers from the State Disaster Management Fund which already had Rs 6,000 Crore accumulated in it since the last several years. He said the centre had also released Rs 247 Crore under the disaster relief head recently.

The SAD senior leader said the government should also give liberal subsidies for mechanised transplanters to fill in the gap caused by a labour shortage.

He said mechanised transplanters were being offered at a subsidy of forty per cent which should be increased to 75 per cent to encourage youth to go in for them in a big way.

Maluka said there were also complaints that electricity supply was not regular across the State despite claims of eight hours uninterrupted supply being made by the government. He said ten hours regular supply should be ensured to farmers for the next two months to ensure they were able to transplant as well as nurture their paddy crop.

The SAD leader said even after all these measures there was a likelihood that there may be a shortfall in the area under paddy due to various reasons, including the shortage of labour.

He said the government should come out with a direct cash benefit scheme for all farmers who are unable to transplant paddy this season.

Maluka said this scheme would also help in diversification into maize and would also give a fillip to water conservation.