The Punjab and Haryana high court on Monday termed agencies like Markfed as “white elephants” and asked the Punjab government to close down the same if these aren’t being use to procure farm produce.
The bench of justice SS Saron and justice Gurmit Ram was hearing a petition seeking procurement of crops by government agencies under the minimum support price (MSP) scheme at rates fixed by the Centre.
It has been alleged that farmers were incurring heavy losses as government agencies have failed to procure crops in Punjab and Haryana.
The court was told by the petitioner’s lawyer JS Toor that even as the central government had stated that it would compensate states for losses incurred on procurement of crops such as sunflower and maize, the government was reluctant to procure the same.
The bench observed that it was unable to comprehend as to why the state did not want to procure the items already covered under the MSP scheme, if the Centre was ready to compensate for losses incurred. “Why don’t you close down the Markfed and other such agencies? Close down these white elephants, if the state is not willing to procure the crops. At least you will save some money,” the bench observed.
Later, the court asked the Punjab government counsel to seek instructions by May 20 – the next date of hearing --- as to why it did not want to procure the crops covered under the MSP scheme.
The bench also asked Haryana to clarify as to why it was procuring only 25% of millet crop, when it had given an undertaking in court that it would procure the entire crop.