The Congress on Tuesday tried to corner the Madhya Pradesh government in the House over delay in payment of the bailout money to onion farmers in the state and staged a walkout amid pandemonium.
Chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan had promised the farmers on June 1 that the government would buy onions from them at Rs 6 per kg. The market was offering them Rs 1 to 1.5 per kg which had forced many to dump the veggie in the fields out of desperation.
The Congress MLAs staged a walkout alleging that the government was selling the onion at Rs 4 per kg whereas the market price had gone upto Rs 10 per kg. This was adversely affecting the farmers, they argued.
‘Govt not paying money to farmers from whom it had procured onions’
During the call attention motion, Congress lawmaker Jaivardhan Singh alleged that the government was not paying money to the farmers from whom it had procured onions. He said in Rajgarh district’s Beora and Sarangpur, the state government procured 55,000 quintal onions from 1000 farmers, but no payment had been made to them. He also attacked the government for keeping the purchased onions in the open in warehouses instead of packing them in jute bags. A huge quantity of onion has rotted due to this, he alleged. Singh said the government had bought onions worth Rs 62 crore from the farmers but had made payment of Rs 23.95 crore only. He sought a reply from the government as to when it was going to make the rest of the payment to the farmers.
‘12% of onion had rotted because of monsoon season’
Cooperatives minister Vishwas Sarang replied to the question point by point and said the decision to purchase the onion was taken to save the farmers from the losses as the prices had bottomed to Rs 1 to 1.5 per kg. He said the state government had bought 1.04 lakh tonnes of onions which cost it Rs 62.42 crore. He rubbished Singh’s jute bag argument and said the warehouses didn’t have any provision to keep onions in bags.
He said at least 12% of onion had rotted because of monsoon season and not otherwise. He said the government had made all possible efforts, like keeping the onions under fans in the warehouses, to save them from rotting. Sarang said that the government had floated tenders to sell the onions but it got quotes as low as 60 paisa to Rs 3.16 per kg. “Due to this the state government decided to sell the onion at a rate of Rs 4 to public. In two days, we have sold 7000 quintals of onions”, he said.
Sarang said of Rs 62 crore, they have paid Rs 23.95 crore to the farmers and rest will be provided to them in a week or so. “Rs 15 crore has been provided to us by the state government. Rest of the money is being managed through a loan. In a week, we will make payment to all the farmers”, he said.