Former Haryana chief minister and Congress leader Bhupinder Singh Hooda on Wednesday threatened to launch a statewide agitation from next month if the government did not lift restrictions on paddy cultivation in parts of the state.
Hooda's warning has come a day after Haryana Chief Minister M L Khattar defended the recently launched Mera Pani, Meri Virasat scheme, aimed at crop diversification.
Hooda, who is the leader of the Opposition in the state assembly, gave the government an ultimatum to withdraw its decision by June 1.
If the government failed to do so, our party will take the issue to every farmer in the state and a detailed programme of agitation will be announced in Kurukshetra, he said.
The Congress recently slammed the crop diversification scheme, saying the government wants farmers in 19 blocks to stop cultivating paddy and punish them by denying MSP for it in case they choose to grow the crop.
The Congress has alleged that the government wants to deny farmers in 26 other blocks the right to grow paddy on the panchayati land.
Hooda accused the government of being stubborn on the issue, saying it remained adamant despite repeated pleas.
“The government should factor in the condition of the farmer and the seriousness of the situation. Instead of carrying out new experiments with farming and farmers in the time of a global pandemic, they should focus on providing the maximum relief,” the senior Congress leader said in a statement here.
On Tuesday, Khattar had defended the crop diversification scheme, saying every drop of water is precious and his government is making policies to save it for future generations.
While the opposition Congress has opposed the scheme, some farmers had also staged a tractor march in Fatehabad district against it, demanding that they be given a choice to decide what they want to sow.
Hooda said the government's decision to put curbs on paddy sowing in different parts of the state has been rejected by most farmers.
“Farmers should feel free to sow paddy or any other crop. We want to tell the farmers that we stand with them in every struggle. The government can't refuse to buy the crop sown by farmers at the MSP. If the government does so, we will certainly oppose it,” he said.
Hooda said as a responsible opposition party, they were “concerned about both farmers and groundwater “.
Therefore, we have constantly been suggesting to the government how both can be protected, Hooda claimed, adding that the government should keep the welfare of farmers in mind.
“We started schemes such as the Dadupur Nalvi and the Hansi Butana canal projects, reviving Rakhsi River, Khand Nala, building Otu lake in Sirsa and Kotla lake in Mewat,” he said reminding the works done by the Congress government in the past.
"In addition to this, we promoted irrigation through the Israeli drip system and grants from Rs 12,000 to 22,000 for fountain sets and Rs 60,000 for the pipeline were given but the BJP government almost stopped it,” he claimed.
The former chief minister said governance is about striking the right balance between the need to conserve and recharge groundwater while ensuring that the farmers are able to sustain their livelihood.
“The government must simultaneously undertake new projects, raise awareness levels and encourage farmers to shift to other crops. Only then both farmers and groundwater will be saved,” he added.