A four-member team of the central government, in Punjab to assess the extent of damage caused to paddy due to unseasonal rain and high-velocity storm in September, visited grain markets of Adampur, Phagwara, Fatehgarh Sahib and Ludhiana on Saturday.
The team, led by Mohinder Kumar, deputy director, central ministry of food and civil supplies, hinted at submitting a report that would be in favour of farmers who had been forced to sell their damaged produce at much lower rates, thereby incurring financial losses.
With folded hands, distraught farmers in Phagwara were found requesting the team members for compensation. They said: “Saada jhona nahi vik reha” (Our paddy is not being purchased). The government should either announce bonus or compensate us.”
They told the officials that they had sold their paddy at `250 to `300 price below the minimum support price (MSP) fixed at `1,345. To this, the officials said the paddy was damaged and they would submit the report on this to the government within two days.
The officials asked farmers to get their sale registered at the local market committee so that if the government offered any compensation, they were eligible to avail of the benefit.
On being asked as to why they didn't visit the state earlier, Mohinder Kumar said the team had received the orders on Wednesday night and they reached Punjab on Thursday.
On the extent of damage to the crop, he said it would be ascertained only after laboratory reports were out.
Karunesh Sharma, deputy director, food supply, Jalandhar, and coordinator of the central team, said the officials had found the crop damaged and discoloured in the grain markets of eight districts of the state.
“The team has collected around 70 samples from Jalandhar, Ludhiana, Fatehgarh Sahib, Amritsar, Tarn Taran, Gurdaspur, Nawanshahr, Pathankot, Hoshiarpur, Mohali and Kapurthala,” said Sharma, adding that the central team had returned to Delhi on Saturday night.
Details gathered from officials of the Phagwara market committee showed that private purchase, which was limited to 5% during previous years in the grain markets, crossed 30% mark this season as the procurement agencies did not purchase paddy due to high content of damage in the crop.
Jaswinder Singh, a farmer from Kangror village, said: “I had sold my paddy to private purchasers for `1,100 per quintal, which is much below the MSP.”
He said instead of giving them bonus, the central government should compensate them in terms of difference between the sold rate and the MSP. He said he had high hopes from the central team members.
Rattan Singh of Dadde village said: “I had sold my paddy to private purchasers for `1,000 per quintal as procurement agencies were not purchasing it.”
He said agencies' officials were procuring only that paddy which looked better and farmers were being looted at the hands of private purchasers. He sought early compensation for the loss.
Kashmir Singh, a commission agent, said: “The government should immediately announce compensation for farmers as private purchasers were paying them very less.”
Jalandhar farmers kept waiting
Farmers in the new grain market of the district kept waiting for the central government team. On Friday they were informed about the team's visit, but as the team failed to visit the market on Saturday, farmers were left complaining.
The central govt team
Visited 20 grain markets in 11 districts (Jalandhar, Ludhiana, Fatehgarh Sahib, Amritsar, Tarn Taran, Gurdaspur, Nawanshahr, Pathankot, Hoshiapur, Mohali and Kapurthala)
Collected 70 samples
Stayed in Punjab for three days
Will submit the report within two days