CHANDIGARH: Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Monday urged protesting farmers to ease their ongoing 'rail roko' agitation and allow goods trains to pass through, in the larger interest of the state.
However, he reiterated his government's complete support to the farmers in their fight against the Centre's new farm laws.
Different farmers' bodies had stepped up their agitation by resorting to blocking rail tracks for an indefinite period from October 1 in the state to protest the new farm legislations.
Although farmers under the banner of the Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee have been squatting at rail tracks in Amritsar and Ferozepur since September 24.
In an appeal to the protesting farmers, the chief minister urged them to ease their rail blockade in order to ensure that the state is able to meet its critical needs and ensure that the citizens, including the farming community, are not put to any serious inconvenience in the coming days.
In a statement here, the chief minister pointed out that due to the prolonged blockade of goods trains, the situation at Punjab's coal plants is critical and they are left with only five to six days' supply of coal.
Once the supplies run out, the government will be forced to shut down these plants, which will severely impact the state's electricity supply and cause immense hardship to the citizens, he said.
Further with not a single fertilizer rake entering Punjab for the last one week, there could be severe shortage of fertilizers for use by farmers for sowing of the wheat crop, he said.
There is, therefore, an urgent need to allow inflow of fertilizer rakes into the state to ensure that there are sufficient stocks for the Rabi season, he said.
Singh also pointed to the need to create space for storage of rice and wheat, to be harvested by Punjab's farmers in the coming seasons.
For this, the existing stocks of these foodgrains would have to be lifted and dispatched by the Food Corporation of India (FCI) to other parts of the country, he said.
Singh asked the farmers to take cognisance of these grave concerns and let goods trains to ply through Punjab in order to allow movement of coal, fertilizers and food grains.
Such movement was essential to prevent any serious inconvenience to the farmers and other Punjabis, he said, exhorting the Kisan Unions to heed his personal request in the larger interest of the state.