Free power to Punjab farmers to continue: CM



Criticising the Opposition for spreading lies, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh here on Wednesday said free power to farmers would continue till his government was in power.

Speaking on the motion of thanks to the Governor's address in the House, the Chief Minister also reiterated his commitment to the hassle-free procurement of grain and urged the Centre not to tinker with MSP-based purchases as that would affect the livelihood of a large number of farmers.

Stating that the government was committed to improve farmers' socio-economic security through debt relief and other measures, the Chief Minister said Rs 4,603 crore debt relief had been provided to 5.62 lakh eligible farmers and the rest would get it soon. The necessary budgetary provisions would be announced by the Finance Minister on Friday, he added.

Pointing out that hassle-free procurement had always been his government's priority, he said due to non-interference in mandis' operations, farmers were reaping higher returns for their produce.

For the last six crops, farmers had received an additional Rs 44,000 crore, which was an unprecedented achievement for farmers, he added.

Listing his government's efforts for crop diversification, he said they were not enough and the Finance Minister would announce in his budget speech a comprehensive scheme to achieve diversification with greater thrust on maize cultivation.

To conserve groundwater through crop diversification, the area under paddy has been reduced by 2.50 lakh hectares, he said and added, it caused only 12 lakh tonnes output drop.

The wheat output has increased by 7.30 lakh tonnes in the last three years. Basmati rice and cotton output increased by 2.10 lakh tonnes and 4.81 lakh bales, respectively, he added.

Warning against the nefarious designs to disturb peace and harmony in the state, Singh said he would deal with Pakistan-based terrorists and gangsters with an iron hand. No one would be allowed to destroy the hard-earned peace, he added.

The government, he said had worked hard to protect every section of society, including minorities, weaker sections and women, by ensuring all-round peace, without which there could be no investment or industrial development.

"Nobody wants to invest in a disturbed place," Singh said and added, Punjab had emerged as the preferred investment destination due to the peaceful environment.IANS

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