The Punjab government on Friday announced Rs 300 crore package for farmers affected by last year’s drought following which Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU) called off its five-day protest at Mohali here.

BKU led by Balbir Singh Rajewal announced the withdrawal of the protest after Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal announced at a press conference here this evening that Rs 150 crore will be distributed immediately and the second instalment of Rs 150 crore will be given before the next crop sowing season.

Rajewal had been on indefinite fast for the past five days demanding a special package for the farmers affected by the drought during the paddy season last year.

The modalities for the distribution of Rs 300 crore among the affected farmers will soon be worked out in consultation with the BKU leaders, Badal said. He denied Congress MLA Sukhpal Singh Khaira’s claim that the Centre had released Rs 800 crore to the state government as compensation for sustaining last year’s paddy crop despite the drought and shortage of power, and the SAD-BJP alliance government had not passed on the compensation to the farmers and diverted it to the State Electricity Board.

“The Union Finance Ministry had clarified that Rs 800 crore was not meant to be distributed to the farmers as compensation, but it was meant to compensate the power board for the extra expenditure it incurred in supplying power to the farmers at high cost during the drought conditions, Badal said.

He said the state has already accepted the demand of the BKU for giving productivity linked bonus to the farmers.