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Farmers want combines back, dare cops to stop them

The confiscation of combine harvesters by the police after the Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB) issued challans and imposed a fine of Rs 2 lakh on each machine for violation of pollution norms last month seems to have created problems for the district police.

Since at some places machines are parked at a distance from police stations, cops have to ensure their security as the farmers have announced to take their machines back without paying the fine. PPCC sub-divisional officer Sachin Singla said on the directions of the state government and the National Green Tribunal (NGT), the PPCB authorities had issued challans to owners of 11 combine harvesters operating without super straw management (SMS) system last month and imposed a fine of Rs 2 lakh each.

But after challans, farmers did not allow cops to take their machines at many places and the police had to seal machines wherever these were parked. “The police had sealed four combine harvesters, of 11 challaned. We will take their custody back without paying any fine,” said Joginder Ugrahan, president, BKU Ugrahan. At Longowal, when farmers under the banner of BKU Ugrahan and Kirti Kisan Union (KKU) today tried to take their machine back, the police stopped them. The farmers then gheraoed the cops.

Bhupinder Longowal, state committee member, KKU, said, “Punjab farmers are already under huge debt, but the government made SMS mandatory for combine harvesters without extending any financial help.” “The PPCB authorities have issued challans. We cannot release the machines without the receipt of fine. We have increased the security around sites where combine harvesters are parked,” said Rakesh Kumar, SHO, Sangrur Sadar police station.

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