The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) on Monday demanded that the Central government withdraw the steep hike that had been announced in the price of Diammonium Phosphate (DAP) and nitrogen phosphorus potash (NPK), stating “an increase of Rs 150 per bag for DAP and Rs 100 per bag for NPK will break the back of farmers and force them into a debt trap”.
“Farming is already becoming un-remunerative. The hike in the rates of fertilizers will put an unbearable burden on the farmers of the state who are already facing the consequences of a steep hike in diesel prices. In case this hike is not rolled back it will have an adverse effect on the agrarian economy and could prove to be devastating for the peasantry,” SAD kisan wing chief, Sikander Singh Maluka, said in a written statement released in Chandigarh on Monday.
The SAD’s sentiments were also echoed by Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee chief, Amrinder Singh Raja Warring, who in a tweet on Monday said, “While @BhagwantMann is off on ‘study leave’ to Delhi, farmers have been stuck with another blow of Rs 150/bag, hike in prices of DAP by hostile @BJP4India govt at centre. Being in Delhi, wish Mann Sahab could take out some time from his ‘tutorials’ to raise the matter with Centre.”
SAD’s Maluka, meanwhile, demanded that the government should “immediately direct fertilizer major IFFCO to take back its decision to hike the price of DAP and NPK fertilizers” and stated, “If this was not done it would not only reduce the income of wheat, paddy and maize farmers, but will also severely effect potato and sugarcane farmers who use large quantities of DAP”.
He added, “Potato farmers use as much as four bags of DAP per acre, while sugarcane farmers use three bags of DAP per acre”.
Maluka said Punjab farmers had “suffered a loss of as much as Rs 10,000 per acre due to partial failure of their wheat crop”.
“It was unfortunate that the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government did not even approach the Centre to secure relief from the disaster management fund,” he said.
“Punjab farmers suffered because of unprecedented rain in February, followed by an immediate rise in temperatures in March. With no relief in sight, the state has already witnessed 14 farmer suicides in the last one month alone and the situation could worsen if not tackled immediately,” Maluka added.
Senior Akali leader and former MP, Prem Singh Chandumajra, had also on Friday stated that in order to get farmers out of the debt trap, the Punjab government should adopt a “triple share policy” under which “the farm debt should be divided into three parts, where government, the lending institution and the borrowing farmer should pay back the loan in equal share”.
The Akali Dal has also demanded a bonus of Rs 500 per quintal to “compensate farmers for the low wheat yields.”
Taking a jibe at Delhi Deputy Chief Minister, Manish Sisodia, SAD chief Sukhbir Singh Badal on Monday wrote back, “Incidentally, the meritorious schools @msisodia ji is mentioning here were set up by Badal Sahab in 2016”.
Sisodia had earlier posted a video on Twitter where he is seen talking about the meritorious schools of Punjab, in the presence of Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal, Punjab CM Bhagwant Mann and other top Punjab government officials
SAD spokesperson, Daljit Singh Cheema, too took a swipe at at the AAP.
Cheema said, “The SAD had some time back advised Mann to visit the meritorious and adarsh schools established by us so that the neglect they had suffered during the last five years of Congress rule could be corrected. Instead of doing this and building on the platform created by former CM Parkash Singh Badal, Mann decided to blindly follow other models. It is good that he has finally been told by his own party government that the Punjab model of school education is the best and is being emulated in Delhi. Now Mann should return back to Punjab and see the model first hand by visiting meritorious and adarsh schools and fix the problems being faced by them — including that of non-release of funds and provision of adequate staff.”