Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh. (File Photo: IANS). Image Source: IANS News

Chandigarh, March 8 : Even as he termed the Centre's proposal on direct payment to farmers, bypassing 'arhtiyas' (commission agents) as another provocation that will aggravate the crisis over farm laws, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Monday said the apathetic attitude of the government of India wouldn't help resolve the situation.

The matter had to be resolved by the Centre and the farmers, with the Punjab government having no role to play as the farmers' associations had categorically rejected any political interference, said the Chief Minister, speaking to the media on the state budget, which he described as pro-farmer and pro-poor.

The growth-oriented budget unveiled in the Vidhan Sabha by Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal was designed to ensure the welfare of all sections of society, Amarinder Singh said.

It was a people's budget and yet another step in the fulfillment of his government's promises to the people of Punjab, he added, citing the hike in 'shagun' and pension amounts and the allocation for the state's infrastructure development, including the link roads.

Instead of amicably resolving the farmers' issue, the Central government was fuelling further angst among them, said the Chief Minister, adding that by seeking land record for making e-payment to the farmers directly from the FCI, the situation would worsen.

Punjab had a time-tested system in place in 1967, with farmers getting paid through the 'arhtiyas' or commission agents with whom they had excellent relations and on whom they could depend for financial support in times of adversity, he said.

"How can farmers rely on corporate houses like the Ambanis and the Adanis in times of crisis," he asked.

The Chief Minister stressed that the Centre should have taken the farmers into confidence before bringing the controversial Ordinances.

"Had the Centre been sincere about finding a viable solution to this problem, it would have either consulted the Punjab government or our farmers, as our state alone contributes over 40 per cent of foodgrains to the national pool," he remarked.

Singh made it clear that Punjab, which was initially not even a part of the deliberations on the agricultural reforms, was included in the high-powered committee only after he wrote to the Centre.

Manpreet Badal and Secretary Agriculture K.S. Pannu attended the two meetings held thereafter but there was no mention there about the Ordinances or the new laws, he added.

The Chief Minister, in response to a question, said the Governor should immediately decide and forward the state's amendment Bills against the farm laws to the President.

"If the President accepts, it's good and if he refuses, it will open the doors for us for legal recourse," he added.

To another query regarding the imposition of lockdown due to recent surge in Covid-19 cases, the Chief Minister said, "I cannot say right now, but I hope we are able to control it." At the same time he asked the people to strictly follow safety norms as a precautionary measure.

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