CHANDIGARH: Punjab’s sugarcane farmers on Tuesday withdrew their agitation in response to Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh’s announcement of a Rs 35/quintal hike in the state agreed price (SAP) for cane crushing season 2021-22, taking the SAP in the state to Rs 360 per quintal, which is Rs 2 higher than in neighbouring Haryana.
The matter was resolved during a meeting of farmer union leaders with the Chief Minister here this afternoon, during which Captain Amarinder, while agreeing to the SAP hike, said the state’s fiscal situation had prevented adequate increase in SAP for the past 3-4 years. The farmer union leaders had earlier pointed out that Punjab had failed to hike sugarcane SAP in proportion to Haryana over this period, causing fiscal losses to them.
The Chief Minister said the farmers were not to blame for the problem, which was caused by Punjab’s poor finances. While he was always with the farmers and wanted to do his best for their welfare, the state’s fiscal crisis had prevented him for increasing SAP earlier, he said, adding that balancing the needs of the farmers with those of the cooperative and private sugar mill owners was tough, given the prevailing fiscal situation.
Rana Gurjit Singh, who is himself a sugar mill owner besides being Congress MLA in Punjab, supported the farmers’ demand for increase in SAP.
The farmer union leaders, representing the Sanjha Kisan Morcha which has been spearheading the sugarcane farmers’ agitation for the past several days, thanked the Chief Minister for addressing their problem and announcing the SAP hike. They also expressed their appreciation for the Rs 5 lakh compensation and jobs to one family member each of the Punjab farmers who have lost their lives in the ongoing protest against the Farm Laws at the Delhi border.
Elated with the Chief Minister’s response to their demand, the Morcha representatives, including Balbir Singh Rajjewal, also offered him sweets.
Besides Rajewal, Manjit Singh Rai, the Morcha representatives at the meeting included Kulwant Singh Sandhu, Harmeet Kadia, Jangvir Singh Chauhan, Harinder Singh Lakhowal, Mukesh Chander, Kuldeep Wajidpur, Baldev Singh Sirsa, Baldev Singh Dupper and Balwinder Aulakh.
The Chief Minister was joined by Cooperation Minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa, Health Minister Balbir Singh Sidhu, along with MPs Preneet Kaur and Partap Singh Bajwa, MLAs Rana Gurjit Singh, Dr Raj Kumar Verka, Fatehjang Singh Bajwa, Navtej Singh Cheema and Sushil Kumar Rinku, as well as Chairman Punjab Mandi Board Lal Singh, Chairman Sugarfed Amrik Singh Aliwal. Additional Chief Secretary Development Anirudh Tiwari, Financial Commissioner Cooperation, K Siva Prasad, Principal Secretary to CM Tejvir Singh, Commissioner Agriculture Balwinder Singh Sidhu and Cane Commissioner Gurvinder Singh were also present.