Chandigarh: On Tuesday, Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann described the state farmers’ agitation as unjustified and unwanted, but said he is open to negotiations.
He also urged farmer unions to join the state government’s fight against groundwater depletion in Punjab.
On Tuesday, Punjab farmers staged a demonstration along the Chandigarh-Mohali border after being prevented from traveling to the state capital to press the administration for a wheat crop bonus and the ability to plant paddy from June 10.
Farmers have been instructed by the government to postpone paddy transplantation until June 18.
The CM stated that his doors are open for discussions with farmers, but that empty slogans will not deter him from preventing further groundwater depletion.
“They have a democratic right to hold a dharna but they should tell their issues,” said Mr Mann while talking to reporters after returning from Delhi.
Mr Mann said the government held talks with farmers on Tuesday.
When asked that farmers are adamant on meeting him, Mr Mann said, “They can come any time. I have been calling them earlier as well.” Mr Mann said the staggered programme of paddy sowing will not harm interests of farmers but it can act as a catalyst to save underground water.
“I am the son of a farmer. I know how it can happen. What is the difference between June 18 and 10,” he asked.
The CM asked farmers to support him for a year and said if the farmers suffer any loss during this period, then the state government will fully compensate them.
“Kindly support me for one year at least. If you suffer losses, I will compensate all your losses,” he asserted.
He asked the agitating farmers to tell whether he was wrong because he is thinking about saving water and checking environmental pollution in the state.
“I want to ask respectable organisations that tell me what wrong I am doing for the earth,” he said.
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