The Punjab and Haryana high court on Friday questioned the Punjab government as to why it was not procuring maize as per the minimum support price (MSP) decided by the Centre when the latter was ready to reimburse the losses.
The high court bench of justice SS Saron and justice Gurmit Ram was hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) seeking implementation of the MSP scheme for maize, millet and sunflower.
During the hearing when Punjab told the high court that it was short of funds and would be able to procure only if funds were provided for the purpose in advance by the central government, the HC bench said: “Beggars can’t be choosers.”
However, the state’s counsel countered it saying that Punjab was not begging. “You have to beg for your farmers,” justice Saron replied promptly, observing there was misunderstanding about the central government scheme and that when other states were procuring maize on the same condition, why Punjab was unable to procure it.
The petitioner’s counsel pointed out that Markfed procured 32 lakh quintals of maize in the 2014 season of the total production of 67 lakh quintals. “If the farmers are given the MSP for the entire crop of 2014, the farmers would have to be paid `200 crore,” JS Toor, petitioner’s counsel submitted. As Punjab’s counsel sought time from the court to seek fresh instructions on the issue, the high court has adjourned the hearing for July 27.