Panchayats will resort to favouritism, fear farmers

Tribune News Service

Amritsar, November 19

Even as farmers welcomed the government scheme of provide financial assistance to farmers who had sown non-basmati paddy varieties and did not resort to stubble burning, most of them feel that the procedure adopted to identify beneficiaries needs to be streamlined as panchayats, now being political bodies, would resort to favouritism.

Farmers have apprehensions that village panchayats, being political bodies, should not have been entrusted with the work of identifying the beneficiaries. “Favouritism in choosing beneficiaries of government schemes has been a common problem for all panchayats in the state. It would have been better if the survey was conducted impartially with the involvement of government employees but without the involvement of panchayats,” said Rattan Singh Randhawa, a renowed farmer activist.

The administration has asked the farmers to submit their self-attested forms for availing the benefit from the panchayat till the end of this month. Government officials, along with panchayats, have been entrusted with the work of verifying the claims.

“No farmer, who had not burnt stubble, is eligible beneficiary who has any proof to contest in case he is not provided the financial assistance. And if a non-eligible farmer is selected for assistance, even then nobody has a proof to point that he had actually burnt stubble,” said another farmer Jagtar Singh. He said farmers fear that political affiliations of farmers would influence panchayats.

Meanwhile, the district administration has warned farmers against submitting forms if they have land holding of more than 5 acres, had sown other varieties or crops other than non-basmati paddy or had resorted to the burning of stubble. An official of the administration stated that apart from FIRs against such farmers, action would also be taken against the respective panchayats and verifying government employees.

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