Punjab CM demands relief for cross-border farming
A PART from demanding special incentives to attract industry in the border belt of Punjab, chief minister Parkash Singh Badal has now sought compensation for the farmers cultivating land across the border on a regular basis. Currently more than 2,000 farmers cultivate 18,500 acres land in the border district of Gurdaspur, Amritsar, Tarn Taran and Ferozepur. The Border Security Force, manning the border areas allow regulated access to the farmers. “We are demanding a prompt payment of compensation to the farmers who have restricted access on a regular basis at the rate of Rs 5,000 per acre per annum,” said Mr Badal. The farmers cultivating land across the border fence are given limited access to their fields as they are frisked daily before entering the fields through BSF post and again before sunset. Lack of women BSF personnel had ensured that women cultivators could not go to the fields. Growing tension between India and Pakistan have curtailed the movements of farmers impacting their livelihood. Mr Badal demanded personal intervention of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for the upgrading of rural link roads in the border districts at an estimated cost of Rs 200 crore. Another Rs 312 crore is required for upgrading and strengthening of rural electrical infrastructure in 18 border blocks under Border Area Development Programme (BADP).” The Punjab government has also demanded an adequate hike in the present annual allocation under BADP to under take development activities along the 553 km long international border with Pakistan.