Punjab Congress chief Amarinder Singh today issued a “look out” notice for the Badal government, saying “it had gone completely missing from the mandis (grain markets) of the state.”
“With the government disappearing from the scene, farmers have been forced to resort to distress selling of paddy at rates much lower than the MSP (minimum support price),” he said interacting with farmers here on his three-day visit to areas, which fall along the Indo-Pak border.
He also interacted with farmers at the grain markets in Fatehgarh Churian, Kalanaur, Ghaniyae Ke Bet and Batala.
The farmers told him that the government had “virtually suspended” the procurement and most of them have been waiting at the grain markets for over a week.
Paddy of most farmers lie in the open at the risk of gaining moisture. If the produce is not lifted in time, procurement agencies will not buy our produce, they said.
“I wonder where has the government vanished? The government claimed to have started the process on October 1, but there is no procurement noticeable anywhere,” he said.
“I had already informed chief minister Parkash Singh Badal of the situation but he has failed to take any measure to ensure timely procurement of paddy,” he said.
Farmers told Amarinder that with no procurement they were resorting to distress selling at prices lesser than the minimum support price of Rs 1,510 per quintal.
Some farmers have even sold it for Rs 1,200 per quintal, they said.
Amarinder assured them he was aware of their problems because of the government’s “total apathy”.
He said the Badal government was merely looking for “excuses” to get out of the procurement process because it did not have money to pay farmers.
“Farmers in Punjab are already being discriminated and it is evident from the stringent moisture norms in the state compared to those in Haryana,” he said, adding the permissible moisture limit in Punjab was 17 per cent whereas in Haryana it is 22 per cent.
“Those in border villages have suffered a double blow. They were earlier forced to evacuate and are now being made to wait indefinitely at the grain market to sell their produce,” he said.
He asserted this was the “last” procurement for the Akalis as they would be “overthrown” in the upcoming Punjab elections.