Sukhbir Badal asks PM to cut diesel, fertilizer prices

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Chandigarh, Oct 11 (UNI) Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) president and MP, Sukhbir Singh Badal today urged Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to announce immediate cut in diesel, petrol and fertilizer prices in view of the sharp reduction in the prices of crude oil in the international market.

He also demanded that the Minimum Support Price (MSP) of paddy be raised from Rs 850 to Rs 1000 per quintal as recommended by the Agricultural Costs and Prices Commission. He also demanded a bonus of Rs 300 per quintal for paddy.

In a letter to the PM, the SAD chief pointed out that the costs of agricultural inputs had shown an increase as a direct fall out of the inflationary pressures on the international oil market in recent months. He said that the central government always increased the prices of agricultural inputs such as diesel, urea and some other petroleum based products on the pertex that international crude prices had gone up.

"The farmers have always to bear the brunt of market trends in oil prices and as a result, agriculture has become increasingly un-remunerative, putting a massive burden on the peasantry and a severe strain on farm economy", he said in the letter.

Mr Badal said that the reduction in diesel and fertilizer prices is the logical economic follow up to the fall in international prices.

He said that the farmers of Punjab had made the most remarkable sacrifices for ensuring food security for the country at a time when the international food situation had given rise to very serious apprehensions of an impending food crisis in the country. The centrl government had given a challenge to the Punjab farmers to provide 80 lakh tonnes of wheat to the national food kitty this year and the farmers responded to the challenge by turning in a record 100 lakh tonnes, he said while pointing out that this had resulted in a net saving of over Rs 10,000 crore in foreign exchange.

"The Union government owed a debt of gratitude to the Punjab farmers for this remarkable service to the nation", he added.

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