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Farmers’ stir to continue till tomorrow

Chandigarh: The six-day-old ‘rail-roko’ agitation by Punjab farmers will continue till tomorrow, the union leaders announced tonight after talks with Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal who offered some compensation and promised to take up their demands with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

“We will carry on with our agitation till tomorrow,” said BKU Ekta (Dakunda) general secretary Jagmohan Singh who was part of the representatives of 12 farmers’ outfits who took part in the three-and-a-half hour meeting with CM here to find an end to the strike which has paralysed the train services.

Singh stated this just before the meeting of farmers groups to decide the next line of action on the basis of the parleys held with Badal.

Asked whether any offer was made by Badal, Singh said government has offered to pay Rs 64 crore compensation for farm labourers but no assurance was given with regard to raising compensation component on cotton crop loss by pest attack and higher rates for basmati rice prices.

“The state government is not ready to pay more than Rs 8,000 per acre on crop loss. The government is also not giving any assurance on giving higher rates for PUSA basmati1121 price,” the union leader said.

At the same time, he said Badal assured them that he would take up their demands with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The unions have been demanding Rs 40,000 per acre compensation for farmers whose crop got damaged by whitefly attack, Rs 20,000 per family compensation for farm labourers, Rs 4,500 per quintal rate for Basmati PUSA 1509 variety, Rs 5,000 per quintal for Basmati PUSA 1121.

Besides, they are also seeking payments of sugarcane dues by private mills, debt relief and Rs 5 lakh financial assistance to the family of farmers who commit suicide.

On the issue of debt waiver, Singh said Badal assured them that he would take up the matter with RBI. “Badal said for loans regarding cooperative sector, a policy will be framed,” Singh said.

To check exploitation by commission agents (Arthiyas), Singh said the state government would come out with a Money Lending Act in this regard.