Punjab unit of Congress on Sunday lashed out at the SAD-BJP government for slow procurement of paddy and the delay in payment of minimum support price (MSP) to the farmers for their crops.
Farmers in the state were at the receiving end due to the callous attitude of the coalition government, state Congress chief Partap Singh Bajwa told reporters at Chamiari village near here.
Farmers were forced by commission agents sell paddy to private companies in connivance with government officials, he said, adding private players were buying the paddy at Rs. 1,085 to Rs. 1,100 per quintal against the MSP of Rs. 1,345 per quintal.
Punjab government was expected to procure about 130 lakh tonnes of paddy but during the first 20 days only 20 per cent stocks have been procured, he said.
Bajwa rejected the criticism by Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, who blamed UPA government for meagre hike in MSP of paddy.
He said this year UPA government enhanced MSP by Rs. 50 per quintal and reminded Badal that the MSP of paddy has been increased by Rs. 800 per quintal over the last 8 years.
The main responsibility of procurement of grains was with the state government as the Food Corporation India buys only 10 per cent of total paddy, the Congress leader said.
It was a matter of shame for SAD-BJP government that Punjab which led the nation in green revolution was ranked at 18th place among 20 states in the agriculture growth, he said.
The peasantry of Punjab was most heavily burdened in the country next to Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, Bajwa said, adding the rural debt in Punjab is estimated to be more then Rs. 35,000 crore which has resulted in farm suicides.
As per the latest survey conducted by Punjab Agriculture University, Ludhiana, about 5,000 farmers and farm labourers have committed suicides during the last 10 years, Bajwa added.