Punjab farmers squat on rail tracks, seek wheat crop damage compensation; train services hit

BKU (Ekta Ugrahan) general secretary Sukhdev Singh Kokrikalan said the Centre's decision to cut value of shrivelled and broken wheat grain during procurement was "anti-farmer".

Published: 18th April 2023 08:58 PM  |   Last Updated: 18th April 2023 09:14 PM   |  A+A-


Farmers block railway tracks during a protest against the government’s alleged decision to impose a price cut on the damaged wheat crop, in Amritsar on Tuesday. (Photo | ANI)


CHANDIGARH: At least 20 trains were cancelled after farmers squatted on railway tracks at several places in Punjab on Tuesday as part of their four-hour 'rail roko' agitation against the value cut announced by the Centre on wheat grain shrivelled and broken due to unseasonal rains.

While the Centre has relaxed quality norms for wheat procurement in Punjab, Chandigarh, Haryana, and Rajasthan following crop damage in unseasonal rains, it has decided to cut the value of shrivelled and broken wheat above 6 per cent.

The farmers are also demanding a higher compensation per acre for crop damage.

The disruption in rail services caused inconvenience to many rail passengers.

The protesters squatted on rail tracks in Ludhiana, Amritsar, Bathinda, Ferozepur, Sangrur, Fazilka, Gurdaspur and Tarn Taran.

In some places, the farmers even put up tents on the tracks.

Under the banner of Samyukt Kisan Morcha, several farmer bodies including Bharti Kisan Union (Ekta Ugrahan) and BKU (Lakhowal) had announced they would block rail tracks from 12 noon to 4 pm.

Ferozepur railway division officials said 20 trains including those running from Jalandhar city to Hoshiarpur, Ludhiana to Ferozepur Cantt, Amritsar to Qadian, Amritsar to Pathankot and Verka to Dera Baba Nanak were cancelled, while trains between Bathinda and Fazilka were short terminated and short originated.

A passenger in Amritsar said he and his family members were to go to Kanpur but when they came to the railway station, they got to know that the train was delayed due to the protest.

Another passenger in Ferozepur said his train to Delhi got delayed due to the protest and he had to wait at the railway station in the heat.

BKU (Ekta Ugrahan) general secretary Sukhdev Singh Kokrikalan said the Centre's decision to cut value of shrivelled and broken wheat grain during procurement was "anti-farmer".

Kokrikalan said their outfit stopped trains at several places including Ajitwal in Moga, Gidderbaha in Muktsar, Fatehgarh Churian in Gurdaspur, Patti in Tarn Taran, Dhuri and Lehragaga in Sangrur, Kila Raipur in Ludhiana, Budhlada in Mansa, Jaito in Faridkot and Jalalabad in Fazilka.

In Ferozepur, a farmer leader said the Centre imposed a value cut instead of extending help to farmers.

The farmers also demanded a compensation of Rs 50,000 per acre for the damaged crop and termed Rs 15,000 per acre compensation inadequate.

Last week, the government relaxed the limit of shrivelled and broken grain up to 18 per cent against the existing limit of 6 per cent.

No value cut will be applicable on shrivelled and broken wheat up to 6 per cent.

The value cut will not be applicable on wheat having lustre loss up to 10 per cent, while a value cut of Rs 5.31 per quintal on flat basis will be deducted on wheat having lustre loss above 10 per cent up to 80 per cent.

Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann had said his government will bear the burden on account of the value reduction imposed by the Centre on wheat crops damaged due to untimely rains and hailstorms.


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