Chandigarh: Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) president Sukhbir Singh Badal today said after failing farmers by refusing to come to their aid and releasing compensation for paddy destroyed by flooding, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) was now adding to their distress with drastic power cuts which were threatening to destroy standing paddy and vegetable crops.
In a statement here, “the sheer apathy of chief minister Bhagwant Mann towards the plight of farmers of the State has crossed all limits. After refusing to release a fair compensation to farmers one and a half months after they battled floods which destroyed paddy crops in thousands of acres, the government is enforcing massive power cuts which are creating a drought like situation in the State”.
Stating that this was the chief minister who had promised uninterrupted power supply to farmers, Mr Sukhbir Badal said “farmers in Muktsar, Fazilka and Ferozepur districts are reporting eighteen to twenty hour power cuts which is resulting in the withering of their paddy and vegetable crops besides severely affecting their horticulture trees”. He said the situation had been compounded in the districts by attempts to forcibly close more than 700 lift irrigation pumps. He said farmers were being forced to operate lift pumps at one week intervals or face registration of cases. “Those farmers who have been allocated canal water share are being banned from operating lift pumps altogether with the order being enforced by the police”.
Mr Badal said simultaneously the AAP government which had flooded its own villages in Ferozepur by releasing water from the Harike headworks into villages in the State instead of the Rajasthan canal during the recent floods, was now increasing canal water supply to Rajasthan. “The forcible closure of lift irrigation pumps of farmers in Punjab is also aimed at artificially inflating the availability of canal water so that Rajasthan’s share can be increased further to derive political benefits for AAP in elections to that State”. He said such policies had resulted in drying up of water at tails of canals which had further aggravated the misery of farmers of the State.
The SAD president said urban areas as well as the industrial sector were also facing rampant power cuts. He said traders and industrialists were suffering on this account with the industry sector being most severely hit. “A situation has arisen where people are being forced to shift back to generators”, he said adding all this would have an adverse impact on the State’s economy.
Mr Badal said farmers were also complaining of frequent power breakdowns. “This is because the PSPCL is unable to conduct routine maintenance services due to lack of funds. Farmers are being forced to get their transformers repaired themselves”.
Asserting that a short dry spell had exposed the preparations of the AAP government, Mr Badal said “one shudders to think what would have happened if we had not had ample rains in June and July”. Asking chief minister Bhagwant Mann to remain in the State and review the power situation immediately, Mr Badal told the chief minister – “you are duty bound to serve Punjabis who elected you to power and not to ferry your boss Arvind Kejriwal from one State to another solely because he wants to use the Punjab government aircraft to further his political career”.