With the Punjab Revenue Department marking red entries into the land records of 4,342 farmers who resorted to stubble burning on their farmlands during the paddy harvest season, Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), on Thursday, demanded immediate revocation of these red entries.
Former minister and senior SAD leader Bikram Singh Majithia said farmers had burnt paddy stubble only after the Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann failed to compensate them for the cost incurred in managing the stubble.
He said the SAD stood with the beleaguered peasantry and would oppose collection of penalties imposed on farmers besides launching a sustained campaign in case the red entries in land records were not revoked.
“The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) Government has created another list akin to the black list of the Central government which will cause untold hardship to farmers who will become ineligible for loans and will not be able to mortgage their land. This is discriminatory and a plot to deny them access to various other government benefits also which is intolerable”, Majithia added.
Holding the CM responsible for the current state of affairs, the Akali leader said,“Farmers burnt their paddy stubble only after Mann went back on his word to give them a cash incentive of Rs 2,500 per acre to offset them for the loss incurred in managing it”.
He said after making grandiose announcements and milking cheap publicity, the AAP government did not pay a single rupee to farmers to manage their paddy stubble.
“Instead coercive steps, including police action, were taken to force farmers to manage their stubble at their own cost. Those unable to do so due to financial constraints have been penalised and red entries have been made in their land records,” the SAD leader said.
He said the AAP government should have taken on the responsibility of managing the paddy straw. Majithia said instead of doing this farmers had been encouraged to purchase heavy machinery for which even the promised grants had not been released.
“Moreover small and marginal farmers cannot purchase these machines which are usable for only a fortnight annually,” he said.
Majithia said action was being taken against these farmers despite a clear assurance by the AAP government that no punitive action would be taken against farmers who burnt stubble due to lack of machines or resources.