Opposition Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) has asked the Congress government in Punjab to announce financial package to help farmers in managing crop residue. SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal said his party would stand with the farming community "and not let them (farmers) be bullied into managing paddy stubble on their own without any assistance from the Congress government". He said, "The SAD will not allow any cases to be registered against farmers for burning stubble in despair after failing to get any assistance from the state government to tackle the problem." "Our stand is clear. It is the responsibility of the government to help farmers manage crop residue due to the huge costs involved in this task. In case it is unable to do so, it cannot harass, threaten, penalise and register cases against farmers," Badal said. "We will protest... and will not let the brave farmers of Punjab who have provided food security to the nation to be victimised in any manner," he said in a statement here. Badal also asked the government to immediately announce a financial package for the distraught farmers. "It needs to be understood that the Punjab farmer is always ready to work for social good.
However at this moment, farmers are under deep financial stress and cannot be expected to pay for the management of crop residue after harvesting of paddy. "The government must step in immediately and pay the actual cost of doing so by giving farmers financial assistance of Rs 4,000 to Rs 5,000 per acre. If the government does not do this then it cannot force farmers to incur this cost on themselves," he said. The SAD president also asked the government to explain what it had done for the welfare of farmers in the last six months. "It should explain why it has not implemented the complete loan waiver promised by it... It should tell why it is refusing to come to the aid of farmers despite that fact that more than 250 farmers have committed suicide in the last six months," he said. Meanwhile, an official spokesperson said the Congress government was going all out to resolve the stubble burning issue in the interest of all concerned, and rejected Akali leaders' allegations that it was "victimising" the farmers instead of helping them. Asserting that there was no question of penalising the farming community, the spokesperson said Chief Minister Amarinder Singh had made his government's stand on this issue amply clear.
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