Punjab govt invites farmers' bodies protesting against farm laws for talks

Farmers protest at a private wheat silo in the Sangrur district of Punjab | Photo: Sai Manish

The Punjab government on Monday invited representatives of 31 farmers' bodies for a meeting on Wednesday to discuss the impact of the suspension of goods trains on the state's economy due to the rail blockade agitation.

The railways have suspended the operation of freight trains in Punjab in the wake of the blockade of some rail tracks by farmers who are protesting against the Centre's new farm laws.

Krantikari Kisan Union president Darshan Pal said the farmers' organisations have received a letter from the Punjab Agriculture Department for a meeting on November 4.

In the letter, the department has highlighted the impact of the non-operation of goods trains in the state due to farmers' 'rail roko' agitation.

The letter highlighted that because of the suspension of trains, the supplies of coal for thermal power plants, fertilisers for Rabi crops and movement of foodgrain stocks have been hit.

It also pointed out that the suspension of goods trains has also adversely impacted the state industry as it was unable to get raw material and send finished goods.

According to the state agriculture department, 60,000 gunny bags are stuck in Delhi and Rajpura, thus impacting the lifting of paddy crop from grain markets.

As wheat and paddy stocks could not be moved out of the state, there could be a shortage of space for storing fresh paddy crop, it further pointed out.

It also said the state needed 4.50 lakh metric tonne of DAP (diammonium phosphate) and 10 lakh tonne of urea for wheat sowing. But it has received only 66,000 MT of urea and 56,000 MT of DAP for the month of October allocation, the department said.

Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Sunday had written to BJP president J P Nadda expressing concern over the continued suspension of goods trains by the railways and warned of its dangerous consequence on national security and on the armed forces.

He had also said the situation could become extremely dangerous for the country if the armed forces are deprived of critical supplies, amid increasingly aggressive overtures from both China and Pakistan.

Singh, in an open letter to Nadda, said that despite easing of the blockade by farmers agitating against the new farm laws, the suspension on goods trains continued, and called for collective will and statesmanship to resolve the "festering imbroglio".

Several farmer bodies on October 21 had announced toease their 'rail roko' agitation by allowing the movement of goods trains in the state.

However, members of the Bharatiya Kisan Union (Ekta Ugrahan) continued to squat on two rail tracks which lead to coal supplies to two private thermal plants at Rajpura and Mansa.

Besides, protesters under the banner of Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee are also sitting on a rail track in Amritsar.

Railways Minister Piyush Goyal had a few days ago sought the Punjab government's assurance of the safety of trains and their crew members to restore freight services after Chief Minister Amarinder Singh had asked him to intervene in resuming the same.

Goods train services had resumed in the state after farmer unions on October 21 announced exempting them from their weeks-old 'rail roko' agitation over the Centre's new farm laws.

However, the railways laterdecided to extend its suspension of goods train operations, saying protesting farmers are still blocking the tracks.

(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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