Punjab farmers give "thumbs down" to Union Budget

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Chandigarh, Feb 29: Punjab's farmers on Monday, Feb 29 gave "thumbs down" to the Union Budget 2016-17, saying the Centre "completely failed" in announcing any concrete steps to bail out distressed peasants from the current crisis.

Noting that the union budget was "nothing but a mere statement", a farmers' outfit criticised the Centre for not announcing any step for implementing Swaminathan Commission report and waiving off mounting debt as demanded by farmers.

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"The way the input cost for farmers is rising against the unremunerative prices of crops, I am sure farmers' income will shrink to half of what they are earning today, what to talk of doubling the income," said Bhartiya Kisan Union (Ugrahan), General Secretary, Sukhdev Singh.

The farmers were also upset over no announcement with regard to waiving off the debt of growers. There is a debt of Rs 70,000 crore on Punjab farmers. "We were demanding that the entire debt be waived off on the lines of writing off industry's bad loans," he said.

Farmers were also disappointed over the "lesser" allocation for agriculture sector and farmers' welfare. "Mere an amount of Rs 35,984 crore has been allocated for farmers in the union budget which is grossly inadequate to address the problems of the most neglected sector, plagued with several problems," said BKU (Mann) President Bhupinder Singh Mann said.

Growers were also not impressed with the implementation of Unified Agriculture Marketing Scheme which is aimed at giving farmers more access to the market.

"It is only 1 per cent of farming community like progressive growers who will take benefit of online marketing. What about small and marginal farmers who usually become the victims of low prices and vagaries of weather conditions," said Sukhdev Singh.

Earlier this month, farmers from Punjab and Haryana had taken out a protest march here in support of various demands including implementation of Swaminathan Commission report, among others.

PTI 

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