Chandigarh, June 27
The government has assured farmers of continuing with free power to the agriculture sector, but the focus will be on saving the depleting groundwater and curbing pollution emanating from stubble-burning. In his Budget speech, Finance Minister Harpal Singh Cheema proposed an allocation of Rs 450 crore for direct seeding of rice in 2022-23 to encourage farmers to switch to the water-saving technique.
FM hails struggle against farm laws
- Finance Minister Harpal Singh Cheema has said Punjab’s agriculture sector is at the crossroads. “On one hand, we need to increase farmer’s income and, on the other, we are under obligation to save Punjab from desertification,” he said.
- The minister saluted farmers for their “resolve and fortitude” during the yearlong farm agitation. “I pay homage to those who lost their lives during the farm struggle against an insensitive govt,” he added.
He said the government realised that burning of paddy straw was not without reason as farmers needed to get their fields ready for the next crop at the right time to avoid loss of yield.
“Stubble-burning causes air pollution. Studies have shown that stubble-burning is not good for the soil as well. Therefore, the AAP government will only undertake positively-targeted actions for controlling it,” Cheema said, proposing to explore various possibilities and solutions for stubble-burning. An allocation of Rs 200 crore has been proposed in the Budget.
Besides, Rs 21 crore has been allocated for four schemes that will be introduced this fiscal, focussing on conservation and productive use of run-off water, pond water, rainwater harvesting and augmentation of groundwater recharge.
“The government will continue to support existing schemes related to soil and water conservation,” said Cheema.
Laying to rest all speculations, he said free power to farmers would continue. “The AAP government pledges to stand by farmers. It will continue providing free power to the agriculture sector. I am proposing a budgetary allocation of Rs 6,947 crore in the 2022-23 fiscal,” Cheema added.
With the allocation of Rs 11,560 crore, the government has increased the budget outlay for the agriculture sector by 12.3 per cent this fiscal as compared to 2021-22. Last year, the outlay was Rs 10,293 crore.
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