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Punjab CM meets Amit Shah, demands immediate repeal of new farm laws

New Delhi [India]: Citing social, economic, and security implications of the prolonged farmers' agitation, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Tuesday pressed Union Home Minister Amit Shah for the immediate repeal of the new farm laws, adding that the laws had "caused great resentment amongst farmers from Punjab and other states".

Expressing concern over the fear of inimical powers from across the border trying to exploit the resentment and disgruntlement against the government, the Chief Minister sought an enduring and expeditious solution to the farmers' concerns.

The Chief Minister said protests have been going on in Punjab ever since the Union Government issued the ordinances in June 2020.

"While these protests have so far been largely peaceful, one can sense rising tempers, especially as the state moves towards elections in early 2022," he said.

According to a Punjab government release, the Chief Minister said that the prolonged agitation is not only impacting economic activities in Punjab but also has the potential to affect its social fabric, especially when political parties and groups take strong positions.

The Chief Minister's Office informed that Singh cited inputs from central and state agencies and told Shah that prominent farmer leaders (specific inputs on 5 such leaders were received but they had refused to take security), Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) offices, RSS/BJP/Shiv Sena leaders based in Punjab as well as trains, buses and temples are the potential targets for terror forces.

Citing reports, the Chief Minister said more than 400 farmers and farm workers "had laid their lives in their fight for their rights since the agitation shifted to the Delhi borders".

He recalled that he had even earlier sought an appointment from Shah to meet over the issue with an all-party delegation from Punjab.

Singh also flagged the urgent need to compensate farmers for the management of paddy straw at Rs 100 per quintal and to address the growing fear of shortage of Di-ammonium Phosphate (DAP) fertilizer, which would further aggravate the problems of farmers.

He urged Shah to immediately advise the officials of fertilizer department for enhanced allocation of DAP stocks to Punjab as per the revised demand by the state and to further direct the suppliers to ensure that adequate supplies are given as per schedule.

Pointing to the recent increase in the cost of phosphatic fertilizers subsumed by the Government of India into the subsidy only till October 31, 2021, the Chief Minister said that the firming up of DAP prices in the international market and the uncertainty about the extent of subsidy was contributing immensely to an apprehension of a likely shortfall of DAP in the ensuing Rabi season.

The lack of response from the DAP suppliers to the tenders floated by MARKFED for the purchase of DAP for pre-positioning has further aggravated these apprehensions, he added.

As a result of difficulties being faced by the Punjab State Cooperative Marketing Federation (MARKFED) to arrange DAP supplies through tendering, the State Government has requested the Department of Fertilizers to make an additional allocation of at least 3.5 lakh MTs of DAP on a priority basis till October, and another 1.5 lakh MTs of DAP up to November 15, 2021, so as to ensure timely availability of DAP for sowing of wheat in the state, the Chief Minister said.

He said that the state government had already requested an additional allocation of 0.75 LMT in August and 1.5 LMT in September, over and above its original kharif demand of 0.80 LMT and 0.75 LMT during August and September 2021 respectively. The enhanced allocation for August had not been approved so far, he added.

The timely availability of DAP would greatly help in reducing panic buying and black marketing, which would bring a bad name to both the state and the central governments, Captain Amarinder Singh said.

He informed Shah that Punjab requires 5.5 Lakh MT of DAP for the forthcoming Rabi season.

About 50 per cent of the total requirement is supplied through cooperative societies in the state.

Since the consumption of DAP is mostly limited to a short period from the last week of October to the third week of November when about 80 per cent of the area under wheat is sown, it is necessary to preposition DAP in different parts of the State by the middle of October to avoid any last-minute shortage and resultant delay in sowing, he added. (ANI)

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