Punjab CM hails SC ruling on stubble relief to farmers

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Chandigarh, Nov 6 (IANS) Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Wednesday said he was happy that the Supreme Court had recognised the need to provide financial assistance to small and marginal farmers to check stubble burning.

Even as he made it clear that his government would implement the orders of the apex court as soon as it receives the judgement copy, the Chief Minister reiterated that the Centre would have to come to the rescue of the states, which were facing serious fiscal constraints.

While the GST regime had stifled the financial resources of all states, Punjab, in particular, was in dire straits in view of its massive debt burden, he noted.

The Chief Minister was reacting to reports of the Supreme Court’s directives to Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Punjab governments to provide financial assistance within seven days to small and marginal farmers to ensure that they do not burn stubble to clean their fields.

The court’s observation, he said, had clearly vindicated his stand that the crisis was economic and needed an economic solution to address it.

Though the apex court had left the amount of incentive to be paid to farmers to be determined by the respective state governments, it did take note of the observation of the high-level task force of the government of India that the expenditure incurred by farmers on managing the crop residue in sutu was Rs 100 per quintal, which is the sum Amarinder Singh has also been demanding, said an official spokesperson.

Taking note of the court’s verbal suggestion to look at various funds available with the government, including CAMPA, to finance the incentive scheme, Amarinder Singh said it was gratifying to see the apex court taking cognizance of the ground reality of the situation in the light of the national health emergency imposed in Delhi as a result of dangerously high levels of air pollution.

The court had effectively recognised that the distressed farmers had no viable alternative to stubble burning in the absence of financial aid, the Chief Minister said, hoping that this would also lead to a political consensus on the issue.

The Chief Minister pointed out that he had been personally pursuing the demand for Rs 100 a quintal to wean the farmers away from the deadly practice of burning the paddy straw as the only effective solution to the problem.

–IANS

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