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CHANDIGAR: Urging the agitated trade unions to exercise their democratic right to protest without creating inconvenience to the general public, Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann today said that the harassment of the common man under false pretenses of rights should be avoided.

Taking a strong exception on the stopping of roads by such syndicates to harass the general public, the Chief Minister, while interacting with the media here at his office at the Punjab Civil Secretariat, said that although the protest is a democratic right of every citizen of the country, but these unions must be sensitive to the suffering that ordinary people face because of it. He said it is unfortunate that some organizations have made it their “hobby” to shut down roads and create inconvenience for the general public. Bhagwant Mann said that this callous and irresponsible attitude towards society is unjustified and undesirable.

The Chief Minister said his doors are always open for discussion with all sections of society in agreement with which he also held detailed meetings with farmers and accepted their main demands. However, he said that despite this, some organizations harass people in the name of claiming their rights, which is not justifiable. Listing his government’s pro-farmer initiatives, Bhagwant Mann said that for the first time in the history of the state, his government had cleared all pending arrears of sugar cane growers.

The Chief Minister said his government was providing Rs 380 as the State Agreed Price (SAP) for the sugar cane crop. He claimed it was the highest award offered by a state government in the country. Bhagwant Mann said the mills have been ordered to start milling from November 20 and ensure timely payment to farmers.

The Chief Minister said that for the first time in the state, farmers are enjoying an uninterrupted power supply during the paddy season. He said the state government had not received any complaints about a power outage in the state. Similarly, Bhagwant Mann said that it is recorded that the farmers did not face any inconvenience in selling their paddy crop in the grain markets due to elaborate arrangements made by the state government, adding that the whole process of supply and lifting of harvest and payment to farmers was completed without delay.

The chief minister said that his government had asked farmers to adopt direct seeding of rice (DSR), which drew an overwhelming response from them. He said 29,335 farmers who opted for direct seeding received Rs 24.35 crore (Rs 1,500 per acre) as financial aid from the state. Bhagwant Mann said that this initiative aims to control groundwater depletion in the state.

The chief minister further said that the state government strongly encourages crop diversification. He said that for the first time, the state government has proposed the MSP on the Moong harvest. Bhagwant Mann said farmers had cultivated over 1.25 acres of land this year compared to 50,000 acres last year.

The chief minister said the state government had secured financial aid worth Rs 5 lakh each to the families of 624 farmers who had reached martyrdom during the agricultural unrest. He said close relatives of 326 farmers have secured government jobs, adding that the process is underway to ensure the families of the remaining martyrs are also covered. Bhagwant Mann further said that the state government is fully aware of the agony caused to the farmers due to natural disasters due to which it has paid compensation worth Rs 80 crore to the farmers, as relief, over the past seven months.