Badal demands compensation for soil and water level depletion

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Chandigarh, Mar 11 (UNI) Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal today demanded that the state should be compensated by the Union Government for depletion of its natural resources -- soil and water -- for making the country foodgrain sufficient.

''We demand a Rs 20,000 package for the depletion of our resources,'' he said, while replying to the debate on the Governor's address in the Vidhan Sabha.

Showing deep concern over the poor economic condition of the farmers and mounting debt on them, Mr Badal said farmers from Punjab had not got their due share from Centre despite contributing 50 per cent of the total wheat and rice for food security of the country during the last four decades. They have even sacrificed their valuable assets of groundwater and soil health for producing foodgrains for the nation.

He vehemently pleaded that MSP should be linked with the consumer price index or be fixed 50 per cent higher than the calculated cost of production. He termed the loan waiver by Centre for small and marginal farmers 'too little and too late' and a misnomer. He said that it was not a loan waiver but actually a partial debt default readjustment scheme.

He said the entire loan liability of Rs 31,000 crore, of which Rs 19,000 crore and Rs 12,000 crore was on account of institutional loan and informal sector loan respectively in the state should be waived off by the Centre. He added the existing farm loan waiver just touched the tip of the iceberg of the present agricultural crisis.

He suggested that Centre should take over the liability of loans taken by farmers from the informal sector by directly paying to the lenders and even those owning land between five acres and 10 acres should be covered under the scheme. The Chief Minister also stated that his government had taken a massive rehabilitation and revamping of the 125 year old irrigation system in the state.

He blamed what he called ''the systematic de-federalisation of polity'' by the Congress party for widespread poverty, illiteracy and lop sided development in the country.

Successive Congress governments at the centre, with willing and liberal support of their ruling units in different states, have persistently distorted the Constitution to drain it of every drop of federal energy and turn it into a unitary monolith, he added. The result has been not only the complete disconnect between the Union government and the masses, it was supposed to represent but also the ever-widening gap between the rich and the poor in the country and the alarming specter of unemployment and poverty, he added.

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