Punjab farmers demand higher MSP, direct subsidy payment

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New Delhi, Mar 12 (UNI) Farmers from Punjab today staged a protest dharna at Jantar Mantar demanding raising on Minimum Support Price (MSP) of crops and direct payment of fertiliser subsidy to the cultivators.

The protesters, who began their march from Gurdwara Bangla Sahib were stopped at the Parliament Street by a heavy police posse and then sat on a day-long dharna.

The Bharati Kisan Union (BKU-Rajewal), which sponsored the protest, said deserving small and marginal farmers would not be able to avail any benefit from the Rs 60,000 crore loan waiver, announced in the union's Budget, since in revenue records the most of land holdings are divided among the inheritors, hence are bigger than two hectare unit. The farmer loan waiver would applicable only to those small farmers whose land holdings are less two hectares, they said.

It is paradoxical that aroind 72 per cent farmers of Punjab were owning less than two hectares but they do not fall under the category of beneficiaries of the loan waiver, BKU leader Balbir Singh Rajewal said.

The loan waiver should be reframed to help the heavily indebted Punjab farmers, hundreds among which had already committed suicide because of their failure on the debt-repayment front, he added.

Mr Rajewal also demanded the yardstick for fixing the MSP should be made 'more scientific' on the lines of what Dr M.S Swaminathan had suggested in the recommendations of the National Commission on Farmers.

The farmers continued to sat on the dharna at Jantar Mantar till late evening as they, according to Mr Rajewal, had not been allowed to submit then memorandum to the Prime Minister.


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