Farmers threaten stir from Sept 15
Chandigarh September 13:
Farmers owing allegiance to 17 organisations are all set to join from September 15 the statewide “Boycott Power Bills” agitation besides opposing the reorganisation of the state Electricity Board.
“Beginning September 15, farmers and their families will hold dharnas in front of the offices of the Deputy Commissioners at all district headquarters in Punjab,” says Sukhdev Singh Kokri, General Secretary of the Bharti Kisan Union (Ekta).
Talking to reporters here this evening, Sukhdev Singh Kokri said leaders and workers of the union and its 17 affiliates have been working in the field, mobilising farmers to join the “Boycott Power Bills” agitation. The SAD, before coming to the power, had promised in its election manifesto to provide free power and water to small and marginal farmers.
But now the government, citing technical reasons to get central grants and loans for the power sector, has reintroduced “abiana” on water supplied for irrigation besides levying electricity charges on tube wells used for irrigation purposes. Sukhdev Singh Kokri said that meetings at village, block and division level have shown tremendous enthusiasm among farmers and their families against the state government’s “anti-farmer” policies.
He said that though it was time for farmers to start harvesting their paddy crop, burdening of farmers with power and water bills was leading to increased incidence of suicides. The indebtedness of the farmers has been on the rise because of the increased cost of not only inputs but also the overall cost of production.
Sukhdev Singh Kokri maintained that the agitation starting from September 15 would shake the SAD-BJP government because of the overwhelming response it had been getting from the farmers throughout the state. In some of the areas, especially in the Malwa and Majha belts, the response to “Boycott Power Bills” was 80 to 90 per cent of the total tube well owners.
He said that villagers had formed special committees that would prevent teams of the Punjab Power Corporation that come to disconnect power supply to tube wells for non-payment of bills. Farmers would continue their agitation till the state government reviewed its decision of reorganising the State Electricity Board as well as its decision to levy abiana and making power supply to tube wells metered.