Ruchika M Khanna
Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, October 21
Representatives of Punjab's farm unions will attend a meeting of farm organisations in Delhi on October 27 in a bid to take their stir against the Centre's new farm laws beyond Punjab's borders. In the meantime, the farmers will continue to hold dharnas outside the residences of Punjab BJP leaders as well as outside toll plazas, fuel stations and retail businesses run by three corporate houses which farmers believe are the intended beneficiaries of the Centre's move to "corporatise" agriculture.
Representatives of 30 unions (other than the largest BKU Ekta Ugrahan), at a marathon meeting here today, decided to allow the goods trains to run. The farmers will shift their protest from the rail tracks to railway stations. While the passenger trains will be stopped, the good trains will be allowed to go.
“We will ensure that no passenger train leaves station. Since we do not want Punjab’s economy to be hit any further, we have decided to allow the movement of goods trains,” explained Jagmohan Singh, general secretary, Bharatiya Kisan Union (Dakaunda).
GM Singh, Divisional Manager, Railways, Ambala, said the goods trains would start moving only after they received clearance from the Government Railway Police.
While the industry in Punjab is estimated to have suffered a loss of Rs 40,000 crore since September 24 when "rail roko" was launched, foodgrain stocks procured in the past two years need to be transported from Punjab to the recipient states immediately to free up space in godowns for the 170 lakh tonnes of paddy that is to be procured this season.
Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh, who had appealed to the farmers to allow the trains to run, today thanked the unions for accepting his request.
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What is bothering the state farmers
- Who will bear the procurement cost if the Centre ends the MSP regime? Capt Amarinder had said in the House on Tuesday that the state did not have Rs70,000 crore to buy crops.
- If the MSP is made mandatory, several corporates may shun Punjab mandis. Already, Punjab’s high taxes are a deterrent. The purchase of wheat and non-basmati paddy by pvt players has so far been negligible.
No let-up, say Leaders
"We are holding dharnas at 60 places, including outside the houses of 10 BJP leaders."— Joginder Singh, BKU Ekta Ugrahan
"The passing of the three farm Bills in the Punjab Vidhan Sabha on Tuesday is our first victory. But misgivings on MSP persist."— Satnam S Sahni, BKU Doaba
"Since we do not want Punjab’s economy to be hit further, we have decided to allow the movement of goods trains." —Jagmohan Singh, BKU (Dakaunda)
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