Deadlock causes Rs4,500-cr losses to Punjab

Aditi Tandon

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 7

The non-resolution of the farmers’ agitation in New Delhi is costing Punjab heavily with cross-sector losses estimated at over Rs 4,500 crore.

Railways loses Rs 2,400 crore

The Railways incurred Rs2,400 crore loss due to the recent disruption of trains through Punjab and Haryana. Sources said Rs60 crore loss was due to the disrupted passenger traffic and the remaining due to the stalled freight traffic.

Centre pursuing vendetta

Punjab has been left out of the $7 billion project in which UAE entities have pledged to set up three food parks in India. Punjab has lost out even though the UAE evinced interest to set up a park in the state. – Manpreet Singh Badal, Punjab Finance minister

Punjab Finance Minister Manpreet Badal said today the state was being collectively punished for the protest. “The Centre has adopted a vindictive attitude towards Punjab. We, as a state, are being collectively punished for the agitation by farmers. I am deeply worried about the sagging morale of our people,” Manpreet told The Tribune in an exclusive conversation ahead of the eighth round of talks between the Centre and farm unions on Friday to resolve the deadlock. The 43-day-long protests have caused widespread disruptions across Punjab’s transport sector with goods and passenger trains earlier stalled for days as farmers sat on tracks, demanding the repeal of farm laws.

State government sources said the losses due to interruption in the movement of goods in and out of Punjab stood at over Rs 4,500 crore as of today and the burden continued to rise.

“Punjab has been left out of the $7 billion projects in which UAE entities have pledged to set up three food parks in India. The projects have gone to Gujarat, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh. Punjab has lost out even though the UAE evinced interest to set up a park in the state, as it is the closest to them. The Dubai-Amritsar flight is all of one hour,” Manpreet said, accusing the Centre of vindictiveness.

Demanding that farm laws be held in abeyance for six months and fresh consultations initiated with farmers, Manpreet said the Centre was putting up a “spectacle of small-heartedness” with its obstinate attitude.

“You need a large heart to govern. But the Government of India is not even paying Punjab Rs 1,200 crore rural development fee levied on the purchase of paddy. This is a statutory tax it has withheld,” the Punjab FM said, adding that he was not surprised about the lack of trust reposed by the farmers in the Centre. “Who will believe a government that can go back on the constitutional guarantee of paying GST compensation to states and withhold a statutory tax? I am not surprised the farmers are distrustful of the Centre,” Manpreet said, adding that the state was under financial strain also due to food stocks lying in the open as the evacuation remained stalled due to the unresolved issue.

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