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The Chief Minister of Punjab Sardar Bhagwant Mann assured of cutting tubewells by 70 per cent till the next year to save water-deficit Punjab. He was speaking at the concluding function of the Kisan Mela at the Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) today. Delighted to see the ineffable response to the mela, the Punjab CM remarked: “Kheti (agriculture) has been aan, baan ate shaan (honour, pride and glory) of Punjab; and PAU and its Kisan Melas have been dear to Punjab farmers. Kisaani (Farming) is very close to my heart. This University is not new for me, I have been coming to the melas with my Uncle (Tayaji), as an artist and now as CM.” Sardar Mann was highly elated to see the keen participation of the young farmers, carrying seed bags on their shoulders and holding booklets in their hands, in the mela. “No doubt, our ancestors toiled very hard to make unproductive productive, but agriculture in the present times is undergoing a drastic change with the evolvement of new techniques ranging from sowing to spraying to harvesting. There is a need to update the agriculture,” he stressed.

Disclosing that the Punjab government specifically banned 10 sprays as per the international standards for the pesticide-free basmati production for export, the Punjab CM lambasted the Central government for setting a minimum export price (MEP) of $1,200 a tonne on basmati rice shipments.

Besides, Sardar Mann attacked the Union government for not disbursing the Rural Development Fund of 4,000 crore, which if given would be spent on road construction of 67,000 km, he ensured.

“About 85 per cent of Punjabis are getting free electricity in the state with no-bills,” he said, while highlighting the uninterrupted power supply to the farmers and industrialists during the paddy season this year. The non-functional coal mines in Jharkhand were made functional in October last year by the Punjab government, he disclosed, saying that this has resulted in enhanced power generation. The State government has also supplied water to 35-year old water-scarce Punjab villages during the current year, he added.

Sardar Mann criticized the Food Corporation of India for refusing to purchase Punjab’s paddy, which has been produced at the cost of the overuse of water, and said that it would have been better for Punjab to contribute water than paddy. “Punjab di Kisaani di rakhi karan lai (To protect Punjab’s agriculture), we have to fight for Rs 1 also,” he stated, while informing about the setting up of food processing plants in the state to double the income of the farmers.

Referring to the issue of Sutlej-Yamuna Link (SYL), the Punjab CM was bold enough to declare that Punjab was not having water in Sutlej, which has become a nallah at present. Rather, he suggested Yamuna-Sutlej Link (YSL) for the release of water to the Punjab via Karnal, as it was through Yamuna only, that the water was being supplied to Bangladesh.

“A total of 664 Aam Aadmi Clinics have been set up in Punjab and Schools of Eminence are also coming up,” he informed, while remarking that he has been very careful during signing of the files and signs only those files which benefitted Punjab, not others. About the recent issue of Patwaris, he said that the State government has appointed 710 Patwaris and that 586 posts would be advertised soon. But in a stern message to Patwaris, he stated: “Neither you will give, nor you will take. Corruption won’t be tolerated in the state.”

Sardar Mann entertained the participating farmers with his wit and humour as well as anecdotes which he shared while referring to motivation for paddy straw management using slogans and coal purchase for Punjab via Sri Lanka as asked by the Central government; favouring one business tycoon ‘Ek desh, ek dost (One nation, one friend);’ and previous government’s lust for transport and other businesses.

In his welcome address, Dr Satbir Singh Gosal, Vice-Chancellor, said that PAU has achieved great milestones during its 60 years of magnificent service to the farming community. “With its 1.5 per cent of geographical area, Punjab contributed 51 per cent of wheat to the central pool in 2022,” he divulged, while lauding the tenacious efforts of the state farmers in filling the nation’s food kitty. Pointing out the issues of water depletion and climate change, Dr Gosal called for the support of the World Bank to tackle the emerging problems in agriculture.

At the mela, five progressive farmers were felicitated for their significant contributions to agriculture and allied occupations. Sardar Paramjit Singh of village Bukan Wekhey Nagar (Bahman Wala), district Faridkot, was awarded “Parvasi Bharti Award,” while Sardar Amrit Singh of village Dhaneta, district Patiala, was conferred with “Sardar Ujjagar Singh Dhaliwal Memorial Award.” Sardar Narinder Singh Tiwana of village Ditupur of tehsil Nabha, district Patiala, was presented “Sardar Dalip Singh Dhaliwal Memorial Award,” whereas Sardar Sukhpal Singh of village Mauje Khurd, district Mansa, was feted with “Sardar Surjit Singh Dhillon Award.” Bibi Gurbir Kaur of village Jhandewala, Budh Singh Wala, district Moga, received “Sardarni Jagbir Kaur Memorial Award.”

Sardar Gurmeet Singh Khuddian, Minister for Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare, Punjab; Mr KAP Sinha, Financial Commissioner (Revenue), Punjab; and Dr Inderjeet Singh, Vice-Chancellor, Guru Angad Dev Veterinary and Animal Sciences University, Ludhiana, also graced the occasion.

Dr GS Buttar, Director of Extension Education, was also honored for his outstanding contribution to the transfer of technologies to the farmers’ fields. Later, PAU VC honored Punjab CM and State Agriculture Minister with mementos and shawls.

Dr TS Riar, Additional Director Communication, proposed a vote of thanks. Cloudy sky, gusty winds, foggy weather and downpour failed to deter the spirits of the Punjab farmers who made the Kisan Mela a mega success with their whole-hearted participation.

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