Chandigarh: Shiromani Akali Dal President Sukhbir Singh Badal on Monday demanded Punjab’s Aam Aadmi Party government release a Rs 300 crore comprehensive compensation package for dairy farmers whose livelihood is at stake after their milch animals fell prey to lumpy skin disease (LSD).
Castigating the government for failing to come to the aid of dairy farmers by refusing to release compensation of Rs 50,000 per cattle head for more than 50,000 cattle deaths, he said: “Now it appears a more comprehensive package is needed to help dairy farmers whose cattle were hit by the contagious disease but survived.
“The cattle are recording a fall in milk production by more than 20 per cent. Lakhs of farmers have also spent huge amounts of money to treat their milch animals with the Animal Husbandry Department falling short in treating animals and even in releasing vaccines to counter the disease. All of them should be duly compensated as the entire dairy sector is in a state of crisis.”
Badal also demanded the government fulfill the assurance given during the Budget session in the Vidhan Sabha that it would increase milk procurement prices to Rs 55 per kilogram fat.
“This promise was to be fulfilled by both MILKFED and the Punjab government. While MILKFED started paying farmers Rs 20 per kg fat from May 21, the Punjab government is yet to pay dairy farmers Rs 35 per kg fat since the last three months.”
Asserting that the dairy sector had been strengthened in Punjab over the last few decades with the aim of increasing farm income through allied activities, Badal said then Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal even entrusted this responsibility to the state farmers’ commission formed by him.
“This step resulted in a radical improvement in the quality of livestock in Punjab. All these gains will be frittered away in case the present government does not compensate farmers for the huge losses suffered by them. The entire white revolution exercise will fall flat,” he added.
Asserting that the vaccination exercise against LSD was still incomplete even though the disease had broken out in July, Badal said, “It is even more condemnable that the Animal Husbandry Department has failed to release money for treatment against LSD and the district administration has been forced to direct the village panchayats to foot this bill.”