Farmers in five districts of Punjab along the border with Pakistan have not been paid annual compensation for the last two years for land used for a barbed fencing and for passage to security forces during the militancy period through the 1980s and ’90s.
The Punjab and Haryana high court had approved Rs 10,000 per acre per year on March 3, 2014, for the farmers in the districts of Amritsar, Tarn Taran, Ferozepur, Fazilka and Gurdaspur; and most of them got the money for 2014 and 2015.
The government had acquired 600 acres of farmland along the 553-km international border that falls in 220 villages. This had added to the woes of farmers already victimised by the Partition and the wars, as 21,000 acres are situated beyond the barbed fence — installed some metres within the actual border — from Bamyal to Abohar, and the farmers face a variety of issued in cultivating it.
“Ahead of last year’s assembly elections, the then (SAD-BJP) government gave cheques of compensation for 2015, but 40% of those were taken back later as there was not enough money,” said Raghbir Singh Bhangala, president of the Border Area Kisan Welfare Society (BAKWS), adding, “Farmers of at least five border villages, Gajal, Rajoke-2 and Dall in Tarn Taran, and Raja Rai and Chak Pheruwal in Ferozepur, are yet to receive compensation even for 2014.
He said that as per the court’s order, the Centre and state are to contribute 50:50 share, but neither issued the grant for 2016 and 17, which is Rs 65 crore. “We had a hope that the Congress government of the state could pave the way, but it too failed. We have held protests, but in vain,” he added.
The outfit has filed a contempt-of-court case which is listed for hearing on March 9, he said. “We have also planned to take up the issue during a national rally of farmers in New Delhi on February 23,” said Surjit Singh Bhura, vice-president of the BAKWS.
Tarn Taran deputy commissioner Pardeep Kumar Sabharwal, when contacted, said, “We have already written to the state government about the issue. Once the money is released, it will be distributed.”