Rail and road services were severely hit in Punjab on Thursday for the second consecutive day due to an agitation by farmers who decided to extend it for two more days even as Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal said the state government was ready to accept every genuine demands.
61 trains were cancelled, diverted or short terminated as farmers continued to squat on the rail tracks and using other means to disrupt the services as part of the ‘rail roko’ stir to seek higher compensation for crops damaged in white fly attack, according to railway officials.
Of the 61 trains, 39 trains including express and passenger services were cancelled, 12 diverted, nine short originated and one train was terminated, the officials said. Jagmohan Singh, Secretary General of BKU (Ekta), said the core committee meeting of farmers’ unions decided to continue with their protest for the next two days.
“We are unhappy with the adamant approach of the Parkash Singh Badal government which did not even think of holding talks with the protesting farmers,” he said. Commuters continued to face inconvenience as railway tracks were blocked at six places in the state.
Railways said the traffic was hit on Bathinda-Sirsa, Ganganagar-Ferozepur, Bathinda-Bikaner, Ludhiana-Ferozepur, Bathinda-Patiala and Delhi-Mansa sections. Farmers are squatting on rail tracks at Mansa, Shergarh and Rampura area of Bathinda, Pathrala area of Muktsar, Dagru area of Ludhiana and Mucchhal in Amritsar, Singh said.
The Lehra-Sunam state highway had also been blocked. The farmers are demanding Rs 40,000 per acre compensation for those whose crop was damaged by white fly attack and Rs 20,000 per family compensation for farm labour. They are demanding Rs 5 lakh financial assistance to the family of farmers who commit suicide.
They are also demanding Rs 4,500 per quintal rate for basmati PUSA 1509 variety, and Rs 5,000 per quintal for basmati PUSA 1121 variety. Besides, they are also seeking payments of sugarcane dues by private mills and debt relief.