Khattar govt’s ‘rice shoot policy’ is anti-farmers: Randeep Singh Surjewala

Senior Congress leader Randeep Singh Surjewala on Friday termed Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar’s the “rice shoot policy” as anti-farmer and yet another move to prevent them from cultivating paddy.

Challenging Khattar for an open debate on public issues, the chief spokesperson of the Congress said farmers in Kaithal, Jind, Kurukshetra, Karnal, Ambala and Yamunanagar districts will be adversely affected by the policy.

Rice shoots are temporary openings in water channels of the irrigation department issued to farmers for a limited period for their rice crop.

“It is yet another anti-farmer step taken by this government which wants to completely ban paddy cultivation,” Surjewala said while addressing the media through video conferencing.

Quoting data of the agriculture department, Surjewala said paddy is cultivated on 35.13 lakh acres of land in Haryana and the state produces about 5 million tonnes of paddy every year.

“But the latest rice shoot policy issued on June 3, 2020, the state government’s goal seems to completely eliminate paddy cultivation in Haryana and hit the farmer hard by snatching away their bread and butter,” he claimed as he hit out at the state government.

The Congress leader further alleged that the Khattar government had hastened to bring the policy “as the farmers, besides the opposition, had outrightly rejected the curbs imposed on paddy cultivation under the ‘Mera Pani Meri Virasat’ scheme launched last month”.

Referring to various “anti-farmer” steps by BJP-JJP Government, Surjewala said that on the one hand Khattar government has shelved the Dadupur Nalvi recharge canal project, on the other hand rice shoots were being stopped.

Referring to various conditions in the new policy, Surjewala said no rice shoot would be permitted on all channels in Haryana having discharge of less than 10 cusecs of water.

“Rice shoot fees have been increased by 100 per cent to 300 per acre. Rice shoots will not be provided in the entire Haryana on less than 20 acres of land. There will also be a condition that paddy cannot be planted in more than 15 acres of land out of those 20 acres,” he said.

“The new rice shoots have been completely eliminated in the Bhakra Command system with the exception of areas where the Yamuna or Ghaggar river water is available,” he added.

Referring to the Western Jamuna Canal System, Surjewala said that the quantity of water allocated every year for rice shoots in districts like Yamuna Nagar, Karnal, Panipat, Jind and Rohtak would get reduced from existing water share of 25 per cent to 3 per cent by 2024.

“In districts like Kaithal, Kurukshetra, Ambala, Hisar, Sirsa, Fatehabad, which are under the Bhakra system, 10 per cent water for the rice shoot would be reduced to 3 per cent by 2024. In two years, which is by year 2020 and 2021, all the existing rice shoots would be removed and the new rice shoots will also be limited to 3 per cent,” he said.

He said he will speak to Haryana Congress President Kumari Selja and Leader of the Opposition Bhupinder Singh Hooda and the opposition party will launch an agitation against this policy.

Surjewala further said that the chief minister cannot understand the pain of the farmers.

“The chief minister had confined himself to his official residence in Chandigarh for 63 days due to fear of coronavirus. Perhaps, he is the only chief minister in the country who did not move out for so many days,” he claimed.

“When crop procurement was going on and farmers were facing many problems, he did not visit even a single mandi… Later, after more than two months, he visited Kaithal and Karnal constituencies,” Surjewala, who is a former MLA from Kaithal, claimed.

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