Leader of the Opposition and former Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda on Wednesday said the Congress will launch an agitation against the BJP-JJP government’s decision of restricting rice cultivation in a few areas and sought immediate withdrawal of the decision.
“If the State government doesn’t withdraw its decision, we will launch a State-wide agitation after the lockdown is lifted on May 31. I’ll meet farmers from all areas impacted by the ban including Kurukshetra and Fatehabad. On June 1, we will announce our plan of action.”
Accusing the government of adopting a stubborn stance, Mr. Hooda said the government should factor in the condition of the farmer and the seriousness of the situation following the COVID-19 outbreak.
“Instead of trying new experiments with farming and farmers during a global pandemic, they should focus on providing maximum relief. The government’s decision has been rejected by most farmers who have been staging protests as well,” he said.
“We are with farmers in their struggle. The government has no right to refuse to buy the crop sown by the farmer at minimum support price. If the government does so, we will certainly oppose it,” he said.
Mr. Hooda said the concern about depleting groundwater was legitimate but putting restrictions on paddy cultivation was not the solution. “Groundwater recharge and efficient irrigation were the way forward and not banning cultivation. It is important to worry about groundwater but this is not the time to put restrictions on farmers. Instead the government should provide whatever relief they can to farmers. The Congress government had started the Dadupur Nalvi water recharge project for the future generation’s interest and groundwater conservation but unfortunately the BJP government has stopped it
“Governance is about striking the right balance between the need to conserve and recharge groundwater while ensuring that the farmers are able to be sustain their livelihoods. The government must simultaneously undertake new projects, raise awareness levels and encourage farmers to shift to other crops. Only then both the farmer and the groundwater will be saved,” he said.
Haryana Congress president Kumari Selja and senior party leader Randeep Singh Surjewala have also demanded an immediate withdrawal of the decision.
The Haryana government had recently launched “Mera Pani Meri Virasat” scheme, aimed at crop-diversification to move away from water-guzzling paddy.