Claiming that just 40% of farmers have been paid for their procured wheat, the opposition Congress on Tuesday announced to move the Punjab and Haryana high court against the “losses” being heaped on farmers by the Punjab government.
Addressing a press conference here, Punjab Congress senior vice-president Lal Singh said farmers had incurred an additional interest burden of Rs 300 crore for delay in payment for their paddy crop last year.
“The payment for paddy procured in October was not made for five months. The farmer, who had taken the payment from the arhtiya (commission agent) against his crop, had to keep paying the interest to the arhtiya till the government released the money. The interest owing to the delay amounted to Rs 300 crore. This year, the farmer is facing the same problem with wheat as the Reserve Bank of India has again put objections on the cash credit limit and asked Punjab to seek permission again for release of the remaining amount. Who will make good the loss to farmer? We will make Punjab government and the Centre a party to the case along with the central and state procurement agencies,” said Lal Singh, who had been minister for finance and food and civil supplies in the Capt Amarinder Singh government.
He also alleged a scam in the purchase of wheat bags. “During our government’s tenure, the wheat bags were solely procured from the central agency, director general, supplies and disposal. But this year, the Punjab food and civil supplies department has bought the wheat bags in the open market at double the price of Rs 49 for a bag, which is available for Rs 25 in the wholesale market. There is a scam of Rs 600 crore in the purchase of these bags and we will also demand a probe into it in our petition to the high court,” he added.
Cong calls off May 5 dharnas
The Congress has called off its dharnas in all Punjab districts against the state government on the wheat procurement “crisis”. The protest in Punjab had been called off as the Congress leadership is holding a protest in New Delhi against the NDA government at the Centre on May 6 and 5,000 partymen would take part in it, Lal Singh said.